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TRANSLATIONS OF EARLY DOCUMENTS 

SERIES II 
HELLENISTIC-JEWISH TEXTS 




THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

BOOKS III-V 



THE 

SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

BOOKS III-V 



BY THE 

REV. H. N. BATE, M.A. 



SOCIETY FOR PROMOTING 
CHRISTIAN KNOWLEDGE 

LONDON: 68, HAYMARKET, S.W. i. 
NEW YORK: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

1918 



EDITORS' PREFACE 

THE object of this series of translations is primarily 
to furnish students with short, cheap, and handy text- 
books, which, it is hoped, will facilitate the study of the 
particular texts in class under competent teachers. But 
it is also hoped that the volumes will be acceptable to 
the general reader who may be interested in the subjects 
with which they deal. It has been thought advisable, as 
a general rule, to restrict the notes and comments to 
a small compass ; more especially as, in most cases, 
excellent works of a more elaborate character are avail- 
able. Indeed, it is much to be desired that these 
translations may have the effect of inducing readers to 
study the larger works. 

Our principal aim, in a word, is to make some diffi- 
cult texts, important for the study of Christian origins, 
more generally accessible in faithful and scholarly 
translations. 

In most cases these texts are not available in a cheap 
and handy form. In one or two cases texts have been 
included of books which are available in the official 
Apocrypha; but in every such case reasons exist for 
putting forth these texts in a new translation, with an 
Introduction, in this series. 

W. O. E. OSTERLEY. 

G. H. Box. 



INTRODUCTION 

I. THE SIBYLLINE TRADITION IN GREECE 
AND ROME. 

IN the Hellenic world, as in that of the Hebrews, the 
guidance and inspiration of prophecy was always sought 
and held in veneration. In the great days of Hellas the 
oracles played a part in the moulding of public policy 
no less than in the solution of private problems, and 
long after those days had passed away the popular re- 
ligion drew a constant stream of enquirers to the places 
where the counsel of God was thought to be revealed. 
Oracles such as that of Claros enjoyed an enormous 
vogue as late as the second century A.D. never, 
indeed, had their popularity been greater : and it waned 
only with the decay of the cults which nurtured it. 

In the main, it is clear the Greeks believed firmly 
that the inspiration of their oracles and seers was genuine. 
It is true that Aristophanes laughed at them and parodied 
their utterances, and that Lucian in his day found abun- 
dant material for satire in the charlatans who made large 
profit out of the superstitions of a nerve-ridden age, 
while Aristotle 1 treated inspiration as a form of melan- 
choly ; yet the mind of Hellas was more truly repre- 
sented by Plato 2 and Plutarch, 3 both of whom spoke 

1 Ar. Probl. 30. I. 

2 Plat. Phcedr. 244 b. The Sibyl and others, like the oracles of 
Delphi and Dodona, fj-avritcfi xpAnevoi ti>6e(p iroAA.^ 8$j iroAAori 
irpo\4yovTs els TO fj,4\\ov &p8toj(rat>. 

3 Plut. flfe Pyth, Or. 398 c, an interesting discussion, where a 



8 INTRODUCTION 

of the oracles and the Sibyl with genuine religious 
respect. 

The oracles, strictly so called, were always consulted 
through the official medium of the priests who had charge 
of them; but there were also less official sources of 
revelation ; voices to be heard in caverns where sub- 
terranean springs gave forth mysterious sounds, or from 
the rush of the wind through trees ; in such places the 
earliest " Sibyls " had their home, and could be consulted 
by any who chose to approach them : or rather, through 
them the people could seek counsel of Apollo, to whom 
their inspiration was always ascribed. 

The Sibylline tradition, then, took its origin from 
a side-stream of oracular inspiration. According to 
Rohde (Psyche, vol. ii. pp. 62 f.) one must also infer that 
between the eighth and sixth centuries B.C., when the 
enthusiastic cult of Dionysus was taking settled form, 
there were wandering prophets in Hellas, unattached to 
any local habitation ; men and women subject to ecstatic 
possession, gifted with second sight, who played a part 
analogous to that of the prophets of early Christian 
history. The Cassandra of the Agamemnon is just such 
a figure. She corresponds closely to the earliest de- 
scription of a Sibyl, found in a fragment of Heraclitus ; l 
her utterance is wild, harsh and uncouth : her message 
is full of unwelcome truths and forebodings of disaster ; 
it is like that of Micaiah the son of Imlah, or that of 
the seer in the Iliad z to whom it was said at TOL TO. 

sceptical interlocutor urges that if one foretells all possible disasters 
some of the predictions are sure of fulfilment, but against this it is 
maintained that the Sibyl is too accurate in respect o( place and 
time to be disposed of in this way. 

1 In Plutarch, de Pyth. Or. 561. '2ifiv\\a, Se paivo/jL^ixp ffrdfjiart, 
naff ' \lpd.K\firov, aye\airra ol a.Ka.\\<airiffTa. KO.\ afivpiffra < 

Xi\(a>v fr&v QtKVf'iTa.i rfj <f>o>i'fj 5ia TOV Oe&v. 

2 Homer, lliad t i. 106. 



INTRODUCTION 



KO.K CCTTI <iXa (frpeal fj.avTVfcrOaL. It is with such sooth- 
sayers, 2t/&>AAai x /cat Ba/aScs, and with casual utterances 
gradually collected and handed down in ever-increasing 
number, that the Sibylline tradition begins. 

The first of the Sibyls, according to the general belief, 
was one Herophile, described now as the daughter, 
sister or wife of Apollo, now as the child of a fisherman 
and a nymph ; she came from the Troad to Delphi before 
the Trojan war, "in wrath with her brother Apollo," 
lingered for a time at Samos, visited Glares and Delos, 
and died in the Troad, after surviving nine generations of 
men. After her death she became a wandering voice 
which still brought to the ears of men tidings of the 
future wrapped in dark enigmas. 2 

Two places claimed to be the birthplace of Herophile, 
namely Marpessos in the Troad and Erythrse. The 
Erythrseans based their claim on an alleged utterance 
of the Sibyl irarpis 8e fj.oi I(TTLV 'EpvOprj while the 

1 The traditional derivation of the word 3lfiv\\a is given by 
Varro (ap. Lact, Inst. i. 6, 7) who refers it to the /Eolic <TJOS (6fi6s) 
and &6\\a (&ov\-f)) : " itaque Sibyllam dictam esse quasi 6to&ov\i)v. " 
Modern philologists regard this as improbable. Gruppe (Griech. 
Mythologie, p. 927) thinks the word Phoenician or Arabic in origin, 
and equivalent to "possessed by God." Nestle, (Berl. Philol. 
Wochenschr. 1904, pp. 7646) advances with hesitation a conjecture 
based upon a theory of Schlirer's (Die Prophetin Isabel inThyatira, 
in Theol. Abhandlungen Weizsacker gewidmet, pp. 39 ff). In 
Thyatira there was a 'S.a^ddfiov, a shrine of Sambethe the Chaldean 
Sibyl (C.7. <7. 3509): Schiirer suggests that the Jezebel or Isabel 
of Rev. ii. 20 was the local prophetess of this shrine, and Nestle 
proceeds to guess that Isabel and Sibyl are originally one and the 
same word. More scientific and less hazardous is the view of Dr. 
Postgate (American Journal of Philology, iii. 333 f.), who traces 
2i'uAAa to a root <n (t/3), akin to <ri&-6s, sap-iens, and seen 
in such proper names as SiBvpras, etc., and the diminutive termin- 
ation v\Xo : it will thus mean "the wise little woman" ; cf. our 
wizard, from witan, and the Latin saga, prsesagus, praesagium. 

a In Plut. de Pyth. Or. loc. cit. The tradition is mentioned that 
the Sibyl went to the moon and is still visible there, as a human 
face. 



io INTRODUCTION 

Marpessians asserted that their rivals had suppressed 
a line of the true text, which ought to read thus : 

Trorpis Se /AOI etrriv 
/xr^rpos iepr], TTOTCI/AOS 8' ' 



Marpessos proved to be too insignificant to uphold its 
claim, and thus the Erythraean Sibyl usurped and 
retained the first place in tradition as the earliest and 
greatest of all Sibyls. So, for instance, Lactantius says 
\de Ira Dei, 22, 4) that all ancient authorities "prseci- 
puam ac nobilem praeter ceteras Erythrseam fuisse 
commemorant." x 

It is probable that Sibylline vaticination was practised 
in many localities ; by the time of Varro 2 ten Sibyls had 
been enumerated, and other authorities (see Alexandre, 
App. to Exc. I) give other lists and numbers : but the 
literary tradition of the Sibyl begins with only one. 
Heraclitus, Aristophanes, Plato and Plutarch refer to the 
Sibyl in the singular, 3 and Tacitus (Ann. vi. 12) doubts 
whether the singular or the plural is the proper number 
to employ. 

It is clear from Aristophanes that some sort of Sibyl- 
line literature was current in Greece in the fifth century 

1 Erythrae continued to glory in its borrowed distinction down to 
a late period. Buresch has published (Mittheilungen des k.d. 
Archdol. Instituts, Athenische Abtheilung XVII.) a dedicatory in- 
scription of the time of M. Aurelius, in which the Sibyl says iron-pis 
8' OVK &\\ri, /JLOVV^I Sf fjiol iffTiv 'EpvBpal, and rejoices that after 900 
years of wandering life she is back again in her home, to see the 
fulfilment of her prophecy that Erythrse would once more flourish. 

2 Varro ap. Lact. Inst. i. 6, 7-12. Varro's ten Sibyls are 
the Persian, Libyan, Delphic, Cimmerian, Erythraean, Samian, 
Cumaean, Hellespontian, Phrygian and Tiburtine. 

8 So does Pausanias as a rule, though in X. xii. he enumerates 
four Sibyls, one without a name (? the Libyan), Herophile, the 
Cumaean, and the Jewish. But he may be dependent on some 
other source at this point : see Frazer's note ad loc. 



INTRODUCTION n 

B.C. 1 But the Roman portion of the Sibylline story 
takes the literature back to a considerably earlier date. 
It was at the end of the sixth century B.C. that one of 
the Tarquins, probably Tarquinius Superbus, " canonized" 
such Sibylline oracles as he was wise enough to purchase, 
and had them laid up in the Capitol. Nine books, it is 
said, 2 were offered to him by an old woman from 
Cumse, at the price of 300 gold pieces ; at the end of 
the bargaining the vendor had burnt six out of the nine, 
and was able to secure the original price in full for the 
remaining three. Now these books were brought indeed 
from Cumae, where there was (in later times, at any 
rate) a Sibylline cave and oracle; but they were not 
of Cumsran origin : Cumae, tradition says, produced no 
written oracles. The "Cumseum carmen" was in fact 
simply the " Erythraean " collection, *. e. all that was 
believed in the sixth century to be the work of the chief 
and original Sibyl. 

The installation of the Sibyllines on the Capitol was 
an event of first-rate importance in the religious history 
of Rome. It was the work of the first Roman ruler who 
solemnly consulted the Delphic oracle, and it proved to 
be, if not the beginning and sole cause, at least an early 
and potent factor in the Hellenizing of Roman religion. 3 
New deities, new forms of old deities, new cults, new 
methods of propitiation, new festivals and observances 
were introduced on the authority of the sacred canon 
thus imported. A college of officials, Duumvirs at first, 
Quindecimvirs later, was appointed to have charge of 
the documents, and two assistants at least were always 



He refers to it with mingled sarcasm and respect. ffi&v\\iav, 
like ftaKifciv, means "to talk oracular nonsense." 

2 Dion. Hal. iv. 62. 

3 Marquardt and Mommsen, Staatsaltertumer, vi. 336 ff. 



12 INTRODUCTION 

provided who had a knowledge of Greek. 1 The oracles, 
it would seem, were constantly studied, but were never 
"consulted" or "approached" except by express order of 
the State. Their use appears to have been twofold : 
they were consulted in times of danger, for predictions 
and warnings, 2 and on the occurrence of unprecedented 
portents or disasters, for the discovery of appropriate 
rituals of propitiation. 

The existing Sibylline books, having passed through 
the hands of Jewish and Christian editors, naturally 
retain no traces Of such ritual injunctions as it was the 
business of the Quindecimvirs to discover. 3 Indeed it 
appears that even in the Roman books the expected 
answers were by no means found lying on the surface. 
The method of consultation was elaborate and artificial. 
One account of it avers that a line was chosen at 
random, and an acrostic was made, with the letters 
composing this line as the " lights " : verses beginning 
with the appropriate letters were then discovered in the 
oracles and perhaps composed for the occasion. If this 
account is even approximately correct, 4 it is clear that 

1 The Sibyllines were not the only books under their charge. 
Together with them the libri fatales of Veii, the utterances of 
Begoe the Etruscan prophetess, the " sortes " of Albunea of Tibur, 
and (after 213 B.C.) the carmina Marciana formed the collection 
known as the libri Jatales. 

a Cf. Cicero, de Div. i. 43, 98 et in Sibyllinis libris esedem repertse 
prsedictiones sunt ; Livyiii. 10, 7 libri . . . aditi : pericula aconuentu 
alienigenarum pnedicta . . . inter cetera monitum ut seditionibus 
abstineretur. 

3 Hence Augustine was able to say (de Civ. Dei, xvm. xxiii.) that 
the Sibyl " nihil habet in toto carmine suo . . . quod ad deorum 
falsorum sive fictorum cultum pertineat, quin immo . . . etiam 
contra eos et contra cultores corum loquitur. ' 

* This is based on Alexandre's interpretation (Exc. III. xvi. 
p. 232) of Cic. de Div. ii. 54 ; on the other hand, Dionysius of 
Halicarnassus (iv. 62), writing about 30 B.C., says that the oracles 
had already suffered from interpolations and that the interpolations 



INTRODUCTION 13 

the Quindecimvirs were in a fortunate position. The 
Sibyl was venerated, and she could be made to say what 
they thought desirable. However, it is probable that a 
certain amount of ritual prescription was actually found 
in the text of the books. The god or goddess connected 
with a particular calamity would often be named, and in 
such cases it would be easy to find precedents to direct 
the Quindecimvirs towards the appropriate ceremony : 
moreover, Aristophanes certainly found ritual injunctions 
and political warnings in his text of the Sibyl, for these 
are the things that he parodies : his Sibyl declares when 
peace should and should not be made, and when it is 
proper to sacrifice a white ram to Pandora. 1 

In 8 1 B.C. the buildings on the Capitol, with their 
contents, were destroyed by fire ; but so great was the 
importance attached to the sacred deposit of the libri 
fatales that five years after the fire a commission was 
sent out to renew the collection. The commissioners 
made enquiry for Sibylline verses in Italy and abroad, 
especially at Erythrae, 2 and were able to bring together 
about 1000 lines as the genuine words of the Sibyl. 

Thus from 76 B.C. onwards the Roman collection con- 
sisted of lines which had been found to be in general 
circulation ; some of them were taken from public col- 
lections, and some copied down from popular oral tradi- 
tion. 3 No doubt many of these were accepted as having 

could be detected "by means of the so-called acrostics," which 
may mean that an acrostical oracle was likely to be spurious. Yet it 
may mean exactly the reverse of this ; the Christian author of Book 
viii. inserted (217-250) an acrostic of which the initial letters are 
IH2OT2 XPEI2TO2 0EOT TIO2 2TATPO2, and one does not see 
why he should have chosen to do this unless the acrostical form 
was commonly a mark of genuineness. 

1 Aristophanes, Peace, 1074 ff. ; Birds, 967 ff. 

z Dion. Hal. iv. 62 ; Tac. Ann. vi. 12. 

* irap' ivSpwv IStwrav, Dion. Hal. loc. cit. 



i 4 INTRODUCTION 

had a place in the books destroyed by the fire; but 
there is reason to think that on the one hand the work 
of the commission stimulated both the production of 
new and the adaptation of old Sibylline matter, and that 
on the other the Quindecimvirs had to sift out a con- 
siderable mass of spurious oracles ; x for, as will be seen, 
more than one collection was by this time in existence 
which owed its origin to propagandist literary efforts, 
Jewish and Pagan. 

Further efforts were made both by Augustus and by 
Tiberius to secure the purity and the authority of the 
Sibylline canon. During the arrangements for the cele- 
bration of the Ludi Saeculares in 17 B.C. Augustus had 
the oracles re-copied ; 2 and on assuming the dignity of 
Pontifex Maximus five years later he caused a large mass 
of spurious or unauthorized oracles to be burnt, retaining 
only those of the Sibyl : these he placed in gilded cases 
in the temple of Apollo on the Palatine. 3 Tiberius, 
disturbed by a popular prophecy of the approaching end 
of the empire, set on foot a similar critical enquiry, which 
resulted apparently in some enlargement of the official 
collection as well as in the destruction of some spurious 
or worthless matter. 4 

It is needless to follow further the story of the Roman 
Sibylline canon, 5 nor indeed is it directly connected with 

1 Tac. Ann. vi. 12, dato . . . sacerdotibus negotio quantum 
humana ope potuissent vera discernere. 

1 Dio Cass. liv. 17. * Suet. Aug. 31. 

4 Dio Cass. Ivii. 18, nal TO. /3<jSA.fa trdvra TO. /j.avTflav nva 
fafffKftyaTO, Kal rb, fjitv us ovSevds &ia oirt'/cpive, TO. St 



6 The books were not often consulted under the empire. As 
one would expect, they were not left undisturbed by Julian ; 
Symmachus, as befitted a patrician deeply loyal to the old religion, 
held the office of Quindecimvir in 377 A.D. ; but in the reign of 
Honorius, at the end of the fourth century, the books were burnt 
by order of Stilicho. 



INTRODUCTION 15 

that of the Jewish-Christian books. But its indirect in- 
fluence was considerable. The official adoption of the 
Sibyl by Rome herself, and the atmosphere of awe and 
secrecy with which her oracles were surrounded, lent to 
her name and words a prestige which it would be 
difficult to over-estimate; Rome completed and sealed 
with imperial authority the process of canonization which 
had begun in the folk-lore of Hellas. Hence came, in 
large measure, the temptation to utilize for purposes of 
propaganda a name so venerable. Since the Sibyl was 
a prophetess, any prophecy could safely be ascribed to 
her without fear of disproof; since she was so eminent 
and so ancient, any prophecy which could gain currency 
under her name was sure of eager and widespread 
acceptance. 

It should be added also that the Roman tradition 
enriched the world with one poem which has had a 
higher and more enduring influence upon literary history 
than all the Sibylline verses taken together the Fourth 
Eclogue of Vergil ; 1 it was that prophecy of a new age 
and a blessed birth, inspired partly by the earlier Jewish 
Sibyllines (/'. e. by part of our Book III.), partly also, it 
may be, by direct acquaintance with the Book of Isaiah, 
which won for Vergil his place in Christian thought as 
a herald of the Incarnation. 

II. THE JEWISH-CHRISTIAN ORACLES. 
A. The Extant Books. 

THE Oracula Sibyllina now extant consist of twelve 
books, numbered I.-VIII. and XI.-XIV. This numera- 

1 See Vergifs Messianic Eclogue, by Conway, Warde Fowler 
and Mayor ; also Sir W. M. Ramsay in The Bearing of Recent 
Research on the Trustworthiness of the New Testament, pp. 319- 
350. 



16 INTRODUCTION 

tion, however, does not represent the contents or order 
of any actual MS., but is the result of a fusion of three 
types of text, and is adopted merely for convenience' 
sake, (i) In 1545 Sixtus Birken (Betuleius) published 
Books I.-VIII. 485 from a MS. (P) then at Augsburg, 
now at Munich. (2) In 1599 there appeared (post- 
humously) an edition by Johannes Koch (Opsopoeus), 
based on a Paris MS. (R), which contained the whole 
of Book VIII., but placed it at the beginning of the 
collection. (3) In 1817 and 1828 Angelo Mai was able 
to add, from one MS. at Milan and two in the Vatican 
(a) Book XIV., with VI.-VII. i and VIII. 218-428, 
and (6) Books XI.-XIV., with IV., VI.-VII. i, VIII. 
218-428 (numbered together as Book IX.), and VIII. 
1-9 (numbered as Book XV.); the text of IV., VI., 
and VIII. representing a different recension from those 
previously published. 

The present editions number the first eight books as 
they stood in the editio princeps^ and XI.-XIV. as in 
the MSS. discovered by Mai. But (2) and (3) differ 
considerably in order from (i). (i) begins with a pro- 
logue, towards the end of which comes the note /2i/3A.iov 
d 7rc/3i TOT) avdpxov Oeov; our Books I. and II. follow as 
Aoyos Trpwros. (2) has III. as Xoyo? Trpwros, I. and II. 
as Sevrepos, III. as T/H'TOS (or reTapros) IV. as Terapros (or 
TTt/ATrros); while in (3) IV. -VII. i, VIII. 218-428 appear 
together as Book IX., and VIII. 1-9 as a fragment of 
Book XV. That is to say, the compiler of (3) aimed at 
completeness and achieved disorder; his Book IX. is 
a masterpiece of confusion. He made a collection of 
fifteen books it may be that he had fifteen Sibyls in 
mind as their authors and fortunately used a relatively 
good type of text. 1 He preserves to us four books the 

1 The textual problems of Or. Sib. will not be discussed here. 



INTRODUCTION 17 

interest of which is largely political : XI., Christian 
book based on V. 1-51 and somewhat later in date than 
226 A.D.; 1 XII., a Jewish writing of the time of Alex- 
ander Severus, edited by a Christian hand ; XIII., a 
Christian book earlier than 265 A.D., and XIV., also 
Christian but not earlier than the fourth century. 

Books I.-VIII. contain all the earlier matter, and 
nearly all that is of specifically religious interest. III.-V., 
the earliest of all, must be described later in some detail. 
VI. and VII. are both probably of the second century 
A.D., and are interesting documents tinged with heresy. 
VIII., which contains the famous acrostic, and was used 
by Com median and Lactantius, comes from the bitter 
time of persecution about 180 A.D. or earlier. I. and II. 
are Jewish, with Christian interpolations, some of them 
from Book VIII. ; the Jewish basis being possibly as 
late as the third century A.D. 

The patristic quotations coincide quite clearly with 
the internal evidence of the text as to the general 
questions of date. Down to Clement of Alexandria the 
certain quotations are limited to III., IV. and V., with 
one or two possible allusions to VIII., and frequent use 
of two fragments, which appear in Theophilus of Antioch 
as the " procemium " of the Sibyl, and probably stood at 
one time at the beginning of III. Commodian confines 
himself mainly to VII., and Lactantius makes full and 

It will be enough to say that there are three types of text corre- 
sponding to the three collections described above. (3), The text 
of Mai's discoveries is usually indicated by the letter XI, and is 
mperior to *, the text of type (l), and to % that of type (2), where 
t can be compared with them. * tends to give better readings 
than , but the state of the text as a whole compels the critic to 
live from hand to mouth ; no general principles can be applied to 
such a mass of error and corruption. 

1 These datings are taken without prejudice from Geffcken, 

r.u. pp. 3 iff. 

B 



i8 INTRODUCTION 

copious use of the Books III.-VIII., with the prooemium 
of Theophilus and one or two fragments. 

B. Origin of the Jewish Collection. 

In the third and second century B.C. the Judaism of the 
Dispersion found itself in close and manifold contact with 
Hellenism. To the Alexandrian Jew the Hellenic world 
was both a friend and an enemy. He was attracted, in- 
fluenced, enriched by its wisdom, its poetry, its history : 
he was challenged and repelled by its religion and (apart 
from the kindred influence of Stoicism) by its morals. 
The problem then arose how a Greek-speaking Jew could 
best maintain his place in two worlds so strangely diverse 
as those of Zion and Hellas : how he could commend his 
own faith and practice to the Greeks whose intellectual 
life he shared, and uphold their authority and prestige 
over against the cults and traditions of Hellas. In 
answer to these problems there came into being a con- 
siderable literature in which the names of Greek authors 
were used with a freedom which would now be considered 
less than honest. The works or fragments so produced 
had one of two motives always, and sometimes both : the 
propagation of the Jewish faith and the enhancing of the 
credit and status of Judaism. History was represented 
by a pseudo-Hecatseus, poetry by spurious verses attri- 
buted to Orpheus, Homer, Hesiod, ^Eschylus, Sophocles, 
Philemon, Menander. Orpheus was made to recant his 
polytheism and proclaim the one true God : Sophocles 
to foretell the end of the world by fire and the future 
blessedness of the righteous. All this was merely a 
forcible entry upon the heritage of the Hellenes ; the 
major premiss underlying it was the genuine conviction 
that the creed of revelation was in fact older and truer 
than the wisdom and worship of the Greek. The Jewish 



INTRODUCTION 19 

"forgers" doubtless felt themselves to be merely re- 
writing Greek literature as it ought to have been 
written. 

The fashion of pseudonymous propaganda having 
once been set, it would have been astonishing if the 
Jews had failed to utilize and appropriate the Sibyl. In 
the age of the Maccabees, if a book of " Daniel " was 
needed to confirm the faith and hope of the saints, a 
book of the Sibyl was almost postulated as a necessity to 
vindicate that hope among the unbelieving. The motive 
for producing it was overwhelming. Other Greek teachers 
had already appeared, and found acceptance, in a Jewish 
garb ; here was the oldest of Greek prophets, venerated 
throughout the Graeco-Roman world : her prophecies 
existed in no fixed form or dimension ; the tone and key 
of her utterances was closely akin to that of Hebrew 
prophecy, and especially to that of the more recent 
prophets, with their insistence on a catastrophic vindica- 
tion of God ; she spoke of the downfall of cities and 
empires, of blood and disaster. It was well worth while 
to enlist such an ally on the right side. 

Further, it must be remembered that the Jews were 
not the first to utilize the Sibyl in this way. One may 
doubt whether the Erythraean Sibyl herself, with her 
claim to be older than Homer, 1 and to have supplied the 
material from which he plagiarized the Iliad and Odyssey, 
was entirely above suspicion. And the Babylonian Sibyl, 
Sabbe or Sambethe, on whose work part of our Book III. 
is based, was certainly a creature of literary artifice. 2 Her 
author (who came to be known as her father) was 



1 Cf. Or. Sib. III. 420 ff. 

2 She came, however, to have a local habitation : outside Thya- 
tira there was a 2,a/j.&ddftoy ev T(f Xa\$aiov irepip6\cf, C.I.G. 3509 : 
see Ramsay in Hastings' D.B. art. Thyatira. 



20 INTRODUCTION 

Berosus, a priest of Bel ; he desired (exactly like any 
Alexandrian Jew) to show that his own people and 
religion were far superior in antiquity and authority to 
Greece and her gods. A contemporary of Euhemerus 
(at the end of the fourth century B.C.), he welcomed the 
theory which treated the gods of Olympus as deified 
mortals, and incorporated this, together with Babylonian 
traditions of the beginning of things, in the book of the 
" Babylonian Sibyl." It is probable also that he either 
wrote or borrowed a considerable mass of prophetic 
narrative relating to (and hostile to) Alexander the 
Great. 

Conceive, then, an Alexandrian Jew, about 160 B.C., 
in whose hands is a work already accepted as Sibylline, 
but containing in a pagan form, of course the stories 
of the Deluge and the Tower of Babel, together with a 
rationalistic handling of Greek religion. What Berosus 
had begun, the Jew could not fail to continue. A few 
touches only were needed to expunge the polytheism of 
the Berosian stories : the rest could be incorporated 
en bloc. 

This, it would seem, was actually the way in which 
Book III., the earliest of the Jewish Sibyllines, began to 
take shape. The elements composing it (as it now 
stands) are as follows : (i) matter from the Babylonian 
Sibyl and the Alexander-story (? = the Persian Sibyl); 
(2) Hellenic oracles of various dates from the Erythraean 
collection; (3) Jewish oracles from the time of the 
Maccabees onwards ; (4) Christian additions and altera- 
tions. All these diverse materials are strung together 
without any recognizable plan or sequence. Those who 
compiled, enlarged, and edited the collection felt, doubt- 
less, that the spirit of the Sibylline tradition could best 
be maintained by avoiding all semblance of method ; 



INTRODUCTION 21 

the character which the Sibyl had to maintain was that 
of a frenzied seer, and not that of a literary artist. 1 

Books IV. and V. are less confused and confusing than 
Book III. They contain a certain amount of ancient 
and miscellaneous matter, and some late additions ; but 
the substance of them belongs in the main to one short 
period, the latter part of the first century A.D., and there- 
fore, although they exhibit no kind of sequence, they 
are easier to understand than the wildly heterogeneous 
collection which precedes them. 

I have attempted to supply a conjectural indication of 
date for each section ; but the reader should be warned 
that no two editors will be found to be in entire agree- 
ment as to dates or sources. References to the works 
named in the bibliography will enable him to correct or 
verify the tentative conclusions at which I have arrived. 



C BOOKS III. IV. AND V. ; ANALYSIS AND 
PROBABLE DATES. 

(i) Book IIL 

In Book III. 1-45 is Jewish, Egyptian, and of un- 
certain date. A similar but more elaborate proclamation 
of monotheism is found in Theophilus of Antioch (II. 
36) the editors print it as fragments I.-III. and said 
by him to have stood lv apxy T^S *pofar&is> Lac- 
tantius quotes this as " Erythraean " : and with him 
"Sibylla Erythraea" means Book III. Blass (in 
Kautzsch, Apokr. und Pseudepigr. des a. T.'s, vol. ii.) cuts 

1 This may be illustrated from the sixth-century Prologue to the 
Oracles (86 ff.), where it is said that the crudities and obscurity of 
the verse are due to the shorthand-writers who took down the 
oracles as they were uttered, but were too clumsy to keep up with 
the Sibyl's dictation, or too ignorant to understand it. 



22 INTRODUCTION 

out 1-45 and substitutes the procemium of Theophilus ; I 
agree that this would represent the text as Lactantius 
found it, but think that our 1-45 represents an earlier 
form, for which the more sophisticated lines of the 
procemium were substituted some time in the second 
century A.D. 

46-62 is Jewish, and not earlier, I think, than 30 B.C. : 
possibly 53 ff. may be an addition as late as 79 A.D. 

In 63-92 and 93-96 we have probably a Christian 
hand of the latter part of the first century, A.D. 

97-154 is from the Babylonian Sibyl. Passages from 
the same source dealing with the Deluge will be found 
in I. 230-256. 

156-210 is confused: but it contains, among other 
matter, a clear Jewish oracle on Rome from the time of 
Antiochus Epiphanes, with later touches; from 211-294, 
however, we have a fairly continuous account of the 
Jews and their fortunes to the end of the exile, dating 
from the later Maccabean period. 

The Jewish oracles on Babylon, Egypt, Gog and 
Magog, and Libya in 295-333 can hardly be dated, but 
334-336 appears to refer to the "Julium sidus" of 44 B.C., 
and there are reasons for assigning a late date to 319-333. 

337-349 is a patch of Hellenic oracles ; 350-355, a 
Greek oracle from Asia Minor, belongs to the period of 
the Mithridatic wars. 

356-362 and 363-380 are Jewish oracles against Rome, 
and can only be dated by conjecture. They may belong 
to the time of Pompey, 63 B.C., and it is just possible 
that in 372 there is a Christian touch. 

381-387 comes from the Alexander-oracles, and the 
view adopted here of the difficult lines 388-400 is that 
this is a passage from the same source, recast to suit the 
time of Antiochus Epiphanes. 



INTRODUCTION 23 

401-432 is Erythraean, and 433-488 is Hellenic and 
ancient for the most part, but 444-448 may come from 
the Mithridatic period, while 464-473 deals with the 
Social War and Sulla. 

With 492-503 we revert to the Maccabaean stratum. 
In 504-519 the only indication of date (508 ff.) takes us 
to the second century B.C. ; and for 520-572, oracles 
against Hellas, we have a choice between the Roman 
conquest of Greece in 146 B.C. and the miserable epoch 
of Sulla's campaigns, 551-553 suggesting perhaps the 
earlier date. 

573-651 dates itself as not earlier than the time of the 
seventh Ptolemy, /'. e. the middle of the second century, 
B.C. ; and the remainder of the book has been assigned 
to a similar date. 

But I am not without misgivings as to many parts of 
the last 300 lines. It is doubtful whether they stood in 
their present shape in the text of Lactantius. He is 
always careful, in quoting Book III., to refer to it as 
"Sibylla Erythraea"; but III. 545 and 547 ff. are cited 
by him without specifying the Erythraean Sibyl (Inst. i. 
15, 15) and 652-3 are definitely assigned to "alia Sibylla," 
i.e. to some other book than the third (Inst. vii. 18, 7). 
Combining this fact with the close resemblances which 
are found between the eschatology of this section and 
that of Book V., I am inclined to think that in any case 
this part of the book was remodelled in the middle of 
the first century A.D. A Christian hand appears in 
776. 

The book closes, Sog-end, with a brief but involved 
epilogue, in which the Sibyl identifies herself with the 
Babylonian and the alleged Erythraean, and claims to be 
the daughter-in-law of Noah. 



24 INTRODUCTION 

(2) Book IV. 

It is a relief, after the intricate disorder of Book III., 
to turn to the comparative unity and simplicity of Book 
IV., which dates as a whole from a time not long after 
the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 A.D. That disaster is 
clearly described (130-136), as is also the earthquake at 
Laodicea in 76 A.D. (107-8), while the legend of Nero's 
disappearance and expected return has already taken 
shape (76-79, 117-124, 137-139). An atmosphere of 
distress and gloom pervades the book, with expectations 
of judgement. It is pessimistic even with regard to 
the " godly " : yet it looks forward to a better age on 
this earth when the doom has been wrought out. Zahn 
believes the writer to have been an Asiatic Jew domiciled 
in Italy; but there is about as much reason (72-75) for 
placing him in Egypt. 

The book opens with a prologue (1-23), and a procla- 
mation of the righteousness of Judaism and the coming 
doom of its enemies (24-48). 49-114 gives a broken 
sketch of world-history from Assyria to Hellas, Mace- 
donia and Rome, interrupted by a reference to Nero 
(76-79), and containing some miscellaneous Hellenic 
oracles ranging in date from an ancient oracle already 
found in Strabo (97-8) to 76 A.D. (107-8). 115-139 
deals with Rome and the Jews, the eruption of Vesuvius, 
and Nero's expected return. 140-151 are Hellenic 
oracles, of which 149-151 may be as late as 76 A.D. 

From 152 to the end of the book we have a prophecy 
of moral collapse, judgement, destruction, resurrection 
and restoration. 

(3) Book V. 

The whole spirit and tone of Book V. stands in strong 
contrast with that of IV. IV. is serious, melancholy and 



INTRODUCTION 25 

quiet : V. is passionate and visionary, alike in its hatred 
of Rome, in its pictures of vengeance and restoration, and 
in its treatment of the mythical figure of the returning 
Nero. V. even abandons the tense and form of 
prophecy, so vivid are its visions, and speaks both of 
the ruin of Jerusalem and of the coming of the Restorer 
as already accomplished (398, 408, 414). 

The dating and analysis of the book have given rise 
to considerable divergences of opinion. We may here be 
content to take Zahn 1 and Geffcken as representing the 
chief divergence, the former holding that three different 
hands are traceable throughout the book, 2 the latter, 
whose main conclusions I have adopted, regarding it (with 
the exception of 1-51) as a unity. The evidence of 
language, metre and mood appears to me to lend 
adequate support to Geffcken's view. 

In 1-51, then, we have a sketch of the emperors down 
to M. Aurelius, from a Jewish hand. It is strangely 
favourable to Hadrian, but I see no reason for regarding 
5 1 as an interpolation, and am therefore unable to accept 
Zahn's view that 1-49 stand apart as the work of a Jew in 
the early part of Hadrian's reign, when the Jews are said 
to have hoped that Hadrian would restore the temple. 

After 51, if we subtract the Christian touches and the 
relics of Hellenic prophecy embedded in the book, the 
rest will be found to express one mood, one indignation 
and one hope. To a Christian source we may without 
hesitation refer 256-259 : possibly also 62-71, and also, 

1 In Zeitschr. filr khchliche IVissenschaft, vol. vii. 1886, pp. 37 ff. 

1 Zahn discerns in V. the work of A. a Jew of about 74 A. D. ; 
B, a second Jew, less fierce than A, of the time of Hadrian ; and C, a 
Christian interpolator and redactor. His analysis is as follows : A, 
111-178, 200-205, 228-246, 361-433, 484-531 ; B, i-49 a , so b , 52- 
no, 179-199. 206-227, 247-360, 434-483; C, 49*, 5o b , 51, 257, 
413, and perhaps other lines. 



26 INTRODUCTION 

I am inclined to think, 228-246.* Hellenic are lines 
115-136 : 186-7 are also clearly ancient : Hellenic sources 
may underlie 287-327, though a Jewish hand is also 
traceable, 333-5 and 336-7 are also from an old tradition ; 
464 ff. goes back to the inroad of the Gauls into Asia and 
Greece in 280 B.C. 

That the Jew who wrote the rest of the book was 
an Egyptian is unmistakably clear. In 52-92 we have 
prophecies of ruin on Memphis and other Egyptian 
cities: in 179-199 a group of oracles on Egypt and Cyrene : 
a word against Egyptian paganism in 279?., an Egyptian 
prophecy in 458-463, and from 484-511 an idealistic 
picture of the downfall of Serapis, the conversion of his 
servants to the true God, and the erection of a true 
temple in Egypt. Thus the whole texture of the book 
is interwoven with Egyptian threads. 

Its main themes are simple : lamentation over the 
destroyed temple, burning indignation against " Babylon," 
the city of evil-doers, thirst for vengeance ; visions of the 
end, with its woes and its conflict with the forces of Nero- 
Antichrist ; the rebuilding of the temple and the restor- 
ation of God's people to their proper and promised 
blessedness. 

The book was written (apart from 1-51) after the 
death of Titus (411-413) but at a time when the legend 
of his sudden extinction had already found acceptance ; 
and it exhibits the Nero-legend in a developed form, 
with wilder features than those found in Book IV. 
These indications give no ground for precise calculation ; 
nor do I believe that any safe deduction can be drawn from 
the allusions to the Parthians in 93 ff., 439 ff. ; " Parthia " 
in this book has already lost touch with history and taken 

1 I am in accord here with Geffcken, though I do not accept his 
treatment of the apostrophe to S/Spu : see note ad loc. 



INTRODUCTION 27 

on the character of the mythical enemy of the people of 
God. One would however, be on safe ground in assigning 
the book to the last quarter of the first century A.D., and 
in classing it with the Apocalypse of Baruch and II. (IV.) 
Esdras : it is inspired by the same tragic passion as the 
latter, though falling far below it in nobility of thought 
and utterance. 

III. DOCTRINE AND ESCHATOLOGY OF III.-V. 

(a) THE two and a half centuries which elapsed while 
the earliest Jewish Sibyllines were taking their present 
shape saw many and various developments in the sphere of 
eschatological teaching : hence it is possible to illustrate 
Bks. III.-V. on this side from Jewish literature, and 
especially from apocalyptic literature, of every date, but 
it is not possible to put together a coherent account of 
the Sibylline eschatological teaching; so it must suffice 
to indicate the main themes which occupy the writers of 
the various parts. On the other hand, these centuries 
saw little radical change in the main elements of primitive 
doctrine. " The belief in the one invisible spiritual God, 
who, Himself uncreated, has called out from himself 
this visible creaturely woild, is the supreme essential in 
the mission preaching of Hellenistic Judaism." 1 This 
is also the chief dogmatic burden of the Sibyllines. 
They return again and again to the proclamation of 
monotheism and the denunciation of idolatry (III. 7-35, 
545 ff., 586 ff., 604 ff., 629; IV. 6-17, 24-39; v - 75 ff -> 
276 ff, 353 ff -, 403 ff). 

The transcendent God whom they preach is ineffable 
as well as invisible (III. 18-19), an( ^ tne Sibyllines 
illustrate the prevailing tendency of Hellenistic Judaism 

1 Bousset, R.J., 296. 



28 INTRODUCTION 

to substitute periphrases and synonyms for the Divine 
Name. 1 Over against the moral defilements of heathen- 
ism, and its sexual laxity in particular (III. 36-45, 184 ff., 
762 ff. ; IV. 25-39 ; V. 386 ff., 429 ff.), is set in contrast 
the purity, kindness and brotherliness of the Jewish way 
of life (III. 219-247, 591-600). Here and there is seen 
a trace of the influence of Stoicism (e.g. communism the 
law of nature, III. 247 ; KOIVOS VO/AOS, III. 757), which 
also supplied some of the imagery connected with the 
catastrophic end of the world. 2 

These Jewish prophets, so intense in their hatred of 
paganism, are not all without hope for the pagan world. 
They call Hellas to repentance (III. 545-561), though 
sure that repentance will not come till doom has been 
inflicted (570 ff.): they appeal to heathendom, though 
sure that the appeal will not be heard (IV. 162-178). 
Yet they have visions of the conversion of the world : of 
a time when the one true temple will draw the peoples to 
join its worship and its praises (III. 616 ff.), and when the 
linen-clad priests of Serapis will bring oblations to 
Jehovah in a new Egyptian temple (V. 492-506). 

(b} The eschatology of IV. and V. is relatively simple, 
since the books supply clear internal evidence of their 
date; and the references in the notes will perhaps 
suffice to show how closely they are related to the other 
apocalyptic literature, Jewish and Christian, of the latter 
part of the first century A.D. 'In Book IV. the great 
sign of the end is the eruption of Vesuvius, with the 
destruction of the temple, the decay of godliness (117, 
152), and the disappearance and expected return of 

1 Cf. Bousset, R. J., pp. 305 ff. 

2 Especially the idea of a world conflagration, which the Stoics 
held, would consume all things and prepare for a recurrence of the 
whole of history. See, e.g.> V. 512, note. 



INTRODUCTION 29 

Nero. At the end there is to be a great and universal 
conflagration (152-161) ; after this a resurrection of the 
body (179 ff.) and a general judgement. Those whom 
the judge condemns will go into gloom beneath the 
earth (43, 184-6), while the righteous will live on earth 
again in blessedness. 

Book V. is more vivid than IV. but not dissimilar to 
it. One point of difference is that in V. the Messianic 
King, absent from IV., reappears (105 ff., 414 ff.) : he is 
to come from the heavens, to destroy the enemies of 
God's Kingdom, to restore what the adversaries have 
pillaged, and to set up the new and perfect temple on 
earth. The sphere of his rule is to be terrestrial. But 
before he comes the woes of the last days have to be 
endured : first, the wars of the great adversaries of the 
Messiah, the Parthians 1 and their king (101 ff.), which 
will end in glory and peace for the Jews (247-255) ; 
then the conflagration, with tumult and war among 
the heavenly bodies (206 ff., 512 ff.). Parallel and 
presumably identical in essence with these pictures, are 
those connected definitely with Babylon-Rome. Babylon 
is to be burnt a great star will be the sign together 
with Italy and the sea, and then Rome is to be judged 
(155-160). A world-wide war is to bring the return of 
Nero- Antichrist, who will reign in power and earthly 
wisdom (220 ff., 361 ff.) ; but portents and devastations 
sent from heaven (298-305, 377 ff.) will set an end to his 
rule and usher in the reign of peace, which will be a 
period of fruitfulness and plenty for the righteous upon 
this earth (281-5), where the new temple is to be built 
in glory (422-7). 

In Book III., however, the dating is all conjectural, 

1 In some passages the Ethiopians take the place of the 
Parthians (205 if., 504 ff., see note on III. 319). 



30 INTRODUCTION 

and the dates of the earliest and the latest Jewish matter 
are separated by more than two centuries. An attempt 
has been made in the notes to indicate which books of 
the Apocalyptic literature supply the closest parallels to 
each passage; but I have not presumed, for the most 
part, to treat the eschatological data as affording precise 
evidence of date. 

Here as in the other books we have the signs of the 
end, the woes and wars of the end, the enemies of the 
Kingdom, the Antichrist, the Messianic King, the judge- 
ment, the great conflagration, and the new age; while 
the Hellenic oracles of destruction appear to be scat- 
tered broadcast as emphasizing the general predictions 
of coming doom. Among the signs may be mentioned 
the great comet (333 ff.), the visions of fiery swords in 
heaven (673 ff.) and of warring hosts in the sky (796 ff.). 
There is to be a universal war (632 ff.), an uprising of 
Gog and Magog (319 ff.), a time of dearth (539 ff., 647 ff.), 
and after the great fire (80 ff., 54 ff., 543, 690), or the 
destruction of Babylon (303 ff.), the new age will come : a 
time of peace and plenty on this earth (in one passage 
(658 ff.) this golden age appears to be doubled it comes 
both before and after the Judgement). The heathen will be 
converted (702 ff.) and the wicked burnt up (741 ff.). It 
will be the work of the Messianic King (46 ff., 95, 286 ff., 
652 ff.) to judge the world and execute sentence, to 
make a perpetual end to war (653), to restore the temple 
to its full splendour (657 ff., 288) and to reign among 
men for ever (49 f.). 

When the eschatological passages of Book III. are 
compared as a whole, and even line by line, with 
those of IV. and V., they convey the impression of 
lateness. It is true that the author of V. may have 
borrowed freely from III., yet it seems to me that in 



INTRODUCTION 31 

many passages of III. a situation similar to that of V. 
is presupposed. The king of Book III., like that of V., 
is to restore the temple; desecration of the temple is 
imminent in III. 660 ff. ; the enemies of God are to be 
judged for attacking the temple in III. 687. It may be 
urged that all this, or much of it, might have been 
written in the Maccabsean times, or even in those of 
Pompey. Yet when the passages are taken in the mass 
they do not suggest those epochs. It looks, indeed, as if 
the oracles had been often worked over. Thus we have 
in III. 248-285 a history of Israel from the Exodus to 
the Exile ; then, in 286, comes a reference to the restora- 
tion ; yet the restorer is not Cyrus, but the Messiah, King 
and Judge. In 301 we return to Babylon but this 
time it is of Babylon-Rome, and not of the historical 
Babylon, that the Sibyl speaks. This is a fairly clear 
case of the re-modelling of an early passage to suit the 
circumstances and hopes of a later period. 1 And if 
beneath the main eschatological passages of Book III. 
there lies an early substratum, I am inclined to think 
that it was carefully worked over in the middle of the 
first century A.D. 



IV. THE SIBYLL1NES IN EARLY CHRISTIAN 
LITERATURE. 

As we have seen, it was the Jews of Alexandria who 
were the first after Berosus to adopt, adapt and amplify the 
Sibylline oracles for the purpose of their own religion. 
From about 160 B.C. to the end of the ist century A.D. 
they continued to utilize them, nor did they entirely 

1 The interpretation adopted of III. 388 ff., if it be correct, gives 
another instance. 



32 INTRODUCTION 

cease to do so till two centuries later. But the Sibyllines 
were destined to pass almost entirely out of Jewish 
hands. They were not retained among the apologetic 
weapons of Rabbinic and Talmudic Judaism : and if 
this was due in part to the deep cleavage which divided 
Judaism from Hellenism after the revolt of Bar-Cochba, 
it was in larger measure due to the whole-hearted adop- 
tion of the Sibyl by Christian apologists, and the addi- 
tions made by Christian writers to the Sibylline 
literature. 

It may be that the Christian use of the oracles began 
with the formation of a body of testimonia from this and 
similar sources; testimonia collected, like those from the 
Old Testament, 1 to bear witness partly to the primary 
doctrines of monotheism and ethical purity, and partly 
to the anticipations of the Incarnation and the Cioss 
which could be discerned in pre-Christian prophecy. 
The frequent appeals in early Christian literature to 
" the Sibyl and Hystaspes " point in this direction ; and 
it has been suggested that the proxmium of Theophilus 
was derived from some such anthology of witness. But 
the Christian re-touching of the oracles began at an 
early date, very possibly in the first century A.D. ; and 
in the middle of the 2nd century Celsus was able 2 to 
tax the Church with the deliberate forgery of spurious 
oracles, while Lucian's parodies 3 are clearly aimed at 
Christian Sibyllists : in the story of the impostor Pere- 
grinus, who became a Christian and an dp^io-waywyevs, 
we read that he not only made a reputation as an 
interpreter of Christian /3t/3A.ia, but " some of them he 
also wrote himself." 

1 See Rendel Harris, Testimonia. 

2 Orig. c. Cels. v. 61, vii. 56. 

8 Lucian, de morte Peregrini, 29, 30; Alexander, II. 



INTRODUCTION 33 

The Christian Apologists accepted in entire good faith 
the existing Hellenic and Jewish tradition, and had no 
doubts as to the reality of the Sibyl's inspiration. Justin 
Martyr 1 names Hystaspes, the Sibyl, and the prophets 
in the same breath. Athenagoras 2 quotes from Book III., 
fortifying himself with a reference to Plato. In Theo- 
philus of Antioch more than eighty lines are cited. His 
appeal is explicit : " The prophets spoke concerning the 
creation of the world and all other things, for they fore- 
told famines, plagues and wars ; and there were not one 
or two only, but a number of them at various times 
among the Hebrews ; moreover, among the Greeks there 
was the Sibyl : and these all gave consenting and harmo- 
nious testimony both of things before and during their 
own time, and of things which are now coming to pass 
among us ; wherefore we believe that as the former 
things have been fulfilled, so it will be in respect of the 
future." 3 To Clement of Alexandria the Sibyl is a 
prophetess, divinely taught (evfo'ws <r<dSpa), " one of our 
own poets"; 4 she sang at God's behest, as Heraclitus 
says. "Just as God gave the prophets because He 
willed the salvation of the Jews, so He raised up the 
noblest of the Hellenes as prophets befitting their own 
way of speech, in so far as they were able to receive the 
good gift of God, and separated them from common 
men." Origen is only concerned to refute what he holds 
to be the calumny of Celsus, that there are Christian 
2t/3v\AioTcu', 5 by challenging Celsus to produce ancient 
copies of the oracles in which the Christian passages are 
not to be found. He does not follow Clement in quoting 
the Sibyl herself. 

Yet Celsus was right, and it would seem that Greek 

1 Apol. I. 44. 2 Leg. 30. 3 ad Autol. II. 3, 36. 

4 Strom. VI. v. ; Protr. ii., viii., etc. & c. Cels. vii. 56. 
C 



34 INTRODUCTION 

Christianity came to recognize the fact. Down to Origen 
and Hippolytus 1 the Greek use of the Sibyl was con- 
tinuous; and Book VIII., a composition of the 3rd 
quarter of the second century, was doubtless the work of 
a Catholic Christian; but the later Christian books are 
tinged with heresy, and it would seem that in the East 
the Sibylline tradition passed off into the backwaters of 
Christian life : it recurs in the Apostolic Constitutions, 
and (very fully) in the pseudo-Justinian Cohortatio ad 
Gracos, but for the rest its only home is in the regions of 
strange speculation and popular superstition. The great 
fathers of the fourth century ignore it altogether. 

In the West the history of eschatological doctrine and 
apocalyptic literature took a different course, and the 
longer survival of the Sibyl amon^ the Latin communi- 
ties is only one instance of the general divergence. 
Tertullian follows the Greek apologists in giving a high 
place to the Sibyl. She is older than all literature : 
her evidence is the " testimonia divinarum literarum." 2 
He is followed by Arnobius and Commodian, and, above 
all, by Lactantius. In the seven books of the Divina 
Institutiones, one of the series of polemical and apolo- 
getic works which we may regard as precursors of the 
De Civitate Dei, Lactantius relies throughout, with im- 
plicit confidence, on the testimony of the Sibyl. His 
armoury contains some strange weapons pseudo-Orphic 
verses, oracles of Apollo, relics of the pseudo-Hystaspes, 
quotations from Hermes Trismegistus. To the last of 
these he attributes almost divine authority ; 3 but the 
Sibyl stands higher : her witness is directly inspired 

1 de Christo et Antichristo, 52. 

2 Ad. Nat. II. 12 ; Apol. 19. 

3 Inst. i. 6, I, unum proferam quod est simile divino, et ob 
nimiam uetustatem et quod is quern nominabo ex hominibus in 
deos relatus est. 



INTRODUCTION 35 

by God, 1 he quotes it in the same breath as that of 
Isaiah and the Books of Kings. 2 Lactantius is aware 
that the purity of the Sibylline text has been assailed : 
to assert that Christians have tampered with the 
oracles is the common refuge of those who cannot 
refute their witness. Yet, he argues, Cicero and Varro 
and others who died before the advent of Christ refer 
to the Erythraean Sibyl and others, from whose books 
we take our quotations. All that we find in them stood 
there in Varro's time, and long before, but it could not 
be understood before it was fulfilled in the Incarnation : 
and that is why the Sibyl was thought to be insane and 
untruthful. 3 What the Pagans did not understand we 
can interpret : we can prove that the revelation of mono- 
theism stood in their own sacred books that it was the 
teaching of Apollo himself. 4 

An interesting comment on this attitude of Lactantius 
comes from the East, from Gregory of Nazianzus. 5 It 
is true, he says, that Hermes and the Sibyl are ostensibly 
on the side of the Cross : yet they are not inspired ; they 
have merely borrowed from the Bible. On the other 
hand, the influence of Lactantius is clearly seen in one 
of Constantine's Declamations, the Oratio ad Sanctorum 
Coetumf in which the acrostic of Book VIII. is quoted at 
length, the authority of the Sibyl is defended in Lactan- 
tian terms, and the IVth Eclogue is brought in as a 
prophecy of the Church {nova progenies) and the Christ, 
derived from Sibylline sources. Further, it is to Lactan- 
tius, clearly, that the Sibyl owes her place among the 

1 #., nunc ad divina testimonia transeamus ; IV. 23, 4, sed nos 
ab humanis ad divina redeamus. Sibylla dicit haec, etc. 

2 ib. t iv. 13, 21. 3 ib. t iv. 15, 26-31. 

* /'., i. 7, I. * Carm. II. vii. 245 ff. 

8 Appended to Eus., de Vita Constantini. 



36 INTRODUCTION 

children of the City of God. 1 Augustine, it is true, 
quotes the acrostic in a rough Latin version from a 
source which is independent of Lactantius, but the 
remainder of his reference to the Sibyl is taken directly 
from the Divine Institutes, That he ever made any 
independent use of the oracles is improbable ; and the 
favourable judgement of the dt Civitate Dei is toned 
down elsewhere. 2 Augustine does not rank the Sibyl 
with the prophets of the Church, nor attribute to her any 
authority of her own. 

Yet the name of Augustine, and the lesser fame but 
more copious quotations of Lactantius, sufficed to sustain 
the reputation of the Sibyl in Latin Christianity. 3 The 
Greek collections of oracles were entirely unknown in 
the West ; but the tradition which originated with them 
lived on until in the middle ages. Their place was sup- 
plied by a stream of forgeries, a stream which continued to 
flow down to the nineteenth century. 4 

Of the mediaeval Sibyls and of the place of the Sibyl 
in Christian art this is not the place to write. Nor can 
we follow the traces of the Sibyl in the East. What one 
would like to know is how it came about that any MSS. 
of the oracles survived at all, and what was the cause of 
the revival of interest in them which led to their being 
recognized and recopied in the fourteenth century, which 
is the date of the earliest extant manuscripts. 

1 Aug. ae Civitate Dei, xviti. 23. 

2 Contra Faustum Manichaum, xiii. I and 15. 

3 Yet that reputation varied. In the Dies Irae, for the line, 
" Teste David cum Sibylla," an alternative version existed : " Crucis 
expandens uexilla." 

* Geffcken in Preussische Jahrbucher, 1901, p 214. 



INTRODUCTION 37 



V. NOTE ON THE NERO-LEGEND. 

THE birth of Nero, like that of Alexander the Great, 
was believed to have been marked by portents indicating 
his more than human descent and his high destiny. 1 
The news of his death gave rise to strange rumours. 2 
Nero, strange to say, was not universally hated. Half 
a century after his death it could be said that " even at 
this time all men long that he may be alive " (Dio Chrys. 
Or, xxi.). Possibly there was in many minds a doubt 
whether he had really died : and the doubt was suffi- 
ciently general, as early as 69 A.D., at the time of Otho's 
accession, to tempt a pretender to appear on the strength 
of it (Tac. Hist. ii. 8, 9). Although his body was 
brought to Rome, to discredit his pretensions, he was 
followed by one, if not also by a second, imitator. It is 
not quite clear whether the second impostor appeared 
about 80 A.D. under Titus, and the third eight years later 
under Domitian, or whether the second and third were 
one and the same. Zonaras (in Dio Cass. LXVI. ii., 
see also Suet. Nero, 57) tells the story of one Terentius 
Maximus, an Asiatic, who, trading on his personal re- 
semblance to Nero, and on the fact that like Nero he 
was a musician, collected a following in Asia and moved 
towards the Euphrates, gathering support as he went. 
He then took refuge with the Parthian king Artabanus, 

1 Cf. Sib. V. 140, and contrast 146. Suet., Nero 6, dc genitura 
eius statim multa et formidolosa multis coniectantibus. According 
to Dio, LXI. 2, strange and supernatural lights were seen at his 
birth. 

2 A parallel case is that of Alexander the Great ; it was a popular 
belief for centuries that he had not died. As late as the end of 
the second century A.D. a pseudo-Alexander, trading on this super- 
stition, headed a Dionysiac procession ! from the Danube to 
Byzantium (Dio Cass., LXXIX. 18). 



38 INTRODUCTION 

who was so impressed by his claims, and so pleased to 
have a tangible ground for attacking Titus, that he 
almost declared war against Rome, in order to reinstate 
the alleged Nero on his throne. 

It seems probable that Terentius Maximus 5 adventure 
was designed to work along the lines of an already exist- 
ing expectation, /'. e. that Nero would re-appear from the 
far East : for the Nero-legend, as it appears in Or. Sib. 
Book V., appears to date, in some if not in all of its main 
features, from the time of Vespasian. A significant 
passage is V. 222-4, which must be read together with 
a passage in the Epistle of Barnabas (IV. 4). Nero is 
to " cut off three heads from among ten horns " ; " ten 
kingdoms," says Barnabas, " shall reign upon the earth, 
and after them shall rise up a little king, who shall lay 
low three of the kings in one." In like manner Daniel 
saith concerning the same : " And I saw the fourth beast, 
wicked and strong and untoward beyond all the beasts of 
the earth, and how that ten horns sprang out of it, and 
out of them as it were a little horn as an offshoot (-n-apa- 
<va8iov, cf. 7rapa(f>v6fjivov Kcpas, Of. Sib, III. 400), and 
how that it laid low three of the great horns in one. Ye 
ought therefore to understand." Lightfoot makes it 
highly probable (Apostolic Fathers, I. ii. 506 f.) that the 
"offshoot horn" here is the Antichrist, the ten horns are 
ten Caesars reckoning from Julius, and the three horns are 
Vespasian, Titus, and Domitian as associated together 
in the exercise of the imperial power. The meaning of 
the passage, then, is that Nero will return to make an 
end of the Flavian Caesars : it is expressed with delibe- 
rate obscurity, as a dangerous truth, but in such a way 
that the initiate will understand. The Sibylline predic- 
tion clearly has the same significance, and we may there- 
fore infer that the expectation upon which both V. 222 ff. 



INTRODUCTION 39 

and Barn. IV. 4 was based must have originated during 
the lifetime of Vespasian. 

The identification of the legendary Nero with the 
Antichrist (or his precursor) was eagerly made by Jewish, 
and still more so by Christian apocalyptists. "This 
persecutor of the disciples, this prodigy of wickedness 
and audacity who outraged humanity and defied nature, 
the son who murdered his mother, the engineer who 
would sever the Isthmus and join the two seas who 
could he be but the man of sin, the Antichrist or the 
forerunner of the Antichrist?" (Lightfoot, loc. tit.}. 
Thus in Rev. xiii. 3, 12 , Nero is the beast whose "death- 
stroke was healed," he "who hath the stroke of the 
sword, and lived"; and in xvii. 8, u, he is "the beast 
who was and is not, and is about to come up out of the 
abyss and to go into perdition." 

In Or. Sib. III.-V. the following passages refer to this 
legendary figure: III. 63 (conceivably); IV. 117-124, 
I 37~ 1 Z9> v - 2 7-34. i37- r 54 (perhaps also 100 ff.), 
214-224, 361-372. 

InV.27 ff.,2i4ff. the disappearance of Nero is connected 
with his ill-omened attempt to cut a canal through the 
Corinthian Isthmus, a work in which Jewish prisoners 
sent by Vespasian were employed. He did not die 
here the tradition diverges from that in the Apocalypse 
but ran from Rome as a fugitive (IV. 117, 138; V. 138, 
214), and took refuge beyond the Euphrates, beyond 
Parthia, with the Persians and the Medes. He was the 
cause of the destruction of Jerusalem : he plotted with 
the Medes and Persians against the Jews, and took the 
temple, burnt the citizens and those who went up to the 
temple. 

The delineations of V., compared with those of IV., 
are more highly coloured, and their apocalyptic content 



40 INTRODUCTION 

is fuller. In V. the second-century passage ayff. says 
that Nero will " make himself equal with God." The 
earlier passages are less definite and yet stronger. As in 
Rev. xii. 3 ff., "the whole earth wondered after the 
beast," so in 137 ff., "when he appeared the whole 
creation was shaken " : as in Rev. xii. 5, there was given 
to him a mouth speaking great things . . . and authority ; 
so in 2i4ff. he will "do great things, for God will give 
him power to do as no king had done before": "he 
will devise more prudently than any man " (366) : he will 
seize upon Rome, and bring in a reign of terror which 
will only terminate with the great catastrophe of the end. 
All this is to come about "in the last time, when the 
moon reaches its last days." And the Antichrist who 
will then appear will (like the Belial of the Ascension of 
Isaiah) be one who murdered his mother (363, 31, 145). 
His coming is divinely permitted (220), and (as in Rev. 
xiii. 7) the power which he is to wield will be given him 
by God. 

The later Sibylline books add nothing to the picture 
here drawn. But the belief that Nero was alive, and 
would return, did not die quickly. " Most men," said 
Dio Chrysostom early in the second century, " verily do 
believe at this day that Nero is living." It was held 
and asserted by Victorinus of Pettau at the end of the 
third century, 1 and rejected as "delirious" by the author 
of Lactantius de Morte Persecutorum? Jerome notes it 
as a common opinion, 3 but passes no judgement upon it : 
Augustine 4 repudiates it with contempt, while Sulpicius 
Severus puts it, in an elaborate form, into the mouth of 

1 Victorious in Apocalypsin, Corptis. Scr. Eccl. Lat. 49, p. 120. 
8 Lact. de Morle Pers. , 2, 8. 

3 Jerome, Comm. in Dan. xi. 29. 

4 Aug., De Civ. Dei, XX. 19. 



INTRODUCTION 41 

an interlocutor in a dialogue, 1 and appears to hold it true 
himself. 2 Even in the East there is a possible trace of 
it in St. Chrysostom, 3 but whether he regarded Nero as 
anything more than a type of Antichrist is left perhaps 
intentionally obscure. 



VI. BIBLIOGRAPHY. 

(i) EDITIONS. 

THE editio princeps is that of Betuleius (Sixtus Birken), 
Basle, 1545 : it was followed by that of Castalio (S. 
Chateillon), also published at Basle, in 1555, and by 
those of Opsopoeus (Joh. Koch), at Paris in 1599 and 
1607. No one appears to have anything good to say 
of the work of Servatius Gallaeus (Servais Galle), a 
polemical Protestant edition published at Amsterdam in 
1688 ; and the edition included by Gallandi in the 
Bibliotheca veterum Patrum (Venice, 1765) added only 
a little to the achievement of earlier scholars. The first 
discovery of Angela Mai* was published in 1817, and 
the second was included in the Scriptorum reterum nova 
collectio of 1828. A full account of his predecessors' 
work is given in the monumental work of C. Alexandre 
(Paris 1 841, '53, '56), which, with its voluminous Excursus 
and Supplementary Notes, is still indispensable to the 
student. This fine piece of erudition marks the beginning 
of the modern study of the Oracula. It was followed by 
the text, commentary, and German metrical rendering of 
J. H. Friedlieb (Leipzig, 1852) ; but the first attempt at 

1 Sulp. Sev. Dial. ii. 

2 Id. Hist. Sacr, II. xxix. "Creditur . . . sub saeculi fine 
mittendus ut mysterium iniquitatis exerceat. 

3 Chrys. Horn. IV. on ii. Thess. 
* See above, p. 16. 



42 INTRODUCTION 

a thorough critical study of the text was made by Alois 
Rzach (Vienna 1891, followed by Analekta zur kritik 
und Exegese der S. O., Vienna 1907. Further progress 
was made by foh. Geffcken, whose text (undertaken for 
the Prussian Kirchenvater Commission, and issued at 
Leipzig in 1902) has been mainly followed in the 
present translation. In his introduction Geffcken gives 
an account of various scholars, notably Mendelssohn and 
JBuresch, who planned editions which they did not live 
to complete, and left valuable material behind them. 

(ii) TRANSLATIONS. 

Besides the rendering into Latin hexameters which 
forms part of the work of Alexandre, and the German 
hexameters of Friedlieb, the Oracles as a whole are 
accessible in the rendering ofy. Floyer (London 1731) 
and that of M. S. Terry (New York, 1890), while Books 
III.-V., translated with valuable notes and an introduc- 
tion by H. C. O. Lanchester, will be found in Vol. II. 
pp. 368 ff. of Dr. Charles' Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha 
of the Old Testament (Oxford 1913) : they are also 
rendered into German prose by Blass in vol ii. of 
Kautzsch's Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des alien 
Testaments (Tubingen, 1900). 

(iii) ESSAYS, ARTICLES, ETC. 

Out of the mass of literature dealing with the Sibylline 
Oracles it is only possible to mention here a few works 
which have been found useful, directly or indirectly, 
in the preparation of this book. 

Bousset, W., Antichrist. (English Translation.) 
Die Religion des Judentums im neutestamentlichen 
Zeitalter (cited as R. J.), (Berlin, 1903). 



INTRODUCTION 43 

Schiirer, The Jewish People in the time of Christ, 

Div. II. vol. iii., esp. pp. 271 ff. 
Christ W., Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur, II. 

i. pp. 463 ff. (in Mullet's Handbuch der kl. 

Altertiimer, vol. vii.). 
Badt, B., Ursprung, Inhalt und Text des vierten 

Buches der sibyllinischen Orakel (Breslau, 1878). 
Geffcken /"., Komposition und Entstehungszeit der 

Oracula Sibyllina, in Texte und Untersuchungen 

(cited as T. U.) new series, viii. i. (Leipzig, 1902). 
Buresch, Klaros (Leipzig, 1889). 
Klausen, Aeneas und die Penaten, I. 203-312 

(Hamburg, 1839). 
Gruppe, Griechische Kulte und Mythen, pp. 675 ff. 

(Leipzig, 1887). 
Bousset, W., in Zeitschrift fur neutestamentliche 

Wissenschaft, iii. 1902, pp. 23 ff. 
Geffcken J., in Nachr. der koniglichen Gesellschaft der 

Wissenschaften zu Gottingen, 1899, pp. 441 ff. 

(Studien zur alteren Nerosage). 
ib. 1900, pp. 88 ff. (Die babylonische Sibylle). 
,, in Preussische Jahrbucher, 1901 (November), 

pp. 193-214 (Die Sibylle). 
Zahn, Th., in Zeitschrift fiir kirchliche Wissenschaft, 

vii., 1886, pp. 32 ff. 

Note. The sign f is used in the translation to indicate 
passages where the text is specially obscure or corrupt. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 



BOOK III 

1-7, 8-45 : A Prologue. 

HEAVENLY blessed One, thundering from on high, 
who enthroned dost hold the Cherubim in thy hand, 
give me rest a little space, who have uttered words of 
very truth : for my heart is weary within me. 

But why is this, that my heart again is shaken, and 
my spirit, smitten with a scourge, is driven to proclaim 5 
unto all a voice from within her ? Yet once more will I 
utter all things that God bids me tell out to men. 

Ye men, to whom God has given an image shaped 
by Him in His likeness, why do ye vainly err, and walk jo 

1-7. The Sibyl, hue to her character (Plut., De Pyth. Or., VII. 
2fj3fAA.cc /J.au'0/j.tvf crr6/j.aTi, KaO' 'Hpa/cAerroj' . . . <f>6eyyofj.fvri. 
Verg. , Ai.n. VI. 76-80) speaks only under the stress of inspiration. 
This is maintained throughout Book III. (cf. 162 ff., 2958"., 489 ff.) 
and Book V. (52, Hi, 286), and is implied in the opening of IV. 
cf. 162 ff., 489 ff., 295 ff., IV. 18, V. 52, HI, 286. 

8-45. Proclamation of monotheism and polemic against idolatry, 
especially that of the Egyptians (30). For this passage Blass (in 
Kautzsch, Apokryphen, II. 184) substitutes the similar lines from 
Theoph., Ad. Antol. ii. 366, which Theophilus alleges to come from 
the Sibyl tv apxj? TT}S irpotyirreias. But the Theophilus passage is 
less simple than 8-45, and has one clearly Christian line. Geffcken 
(T. U, 15, 69 ff.) decides in favour of 8-45, which, however, 
he considers to be probably Christian, on the ground that they 
follow the regular routine of Christian apologetic. It would be 
safer to say that they represent just the type of Jewish argumenta- 
tion which Christian apologists most eagerly borrowed. See the 
refs. in Geffcken, Comm. ad. loc. 

45 



46 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

not in a straight path, remembering ever the immortal 
Creator ? There is one God, sole ruler, ineffable, dwell- 
ing in the sky, self-begotten, invisible, who Himself 
alone seeth all things : whom the hand of the stone- 
worker made not, nor does the form shaped by art 

r 5 of man from gold or ivory reveal Him ; but the Eternal 
Himself revealed Himself, who is and was and ever shall 
be : for who being mortal can behold God with his 
eyes? or who can bear even to hear but the name of 

20 the great God of heaven that ruleth the world ? Who 
by His word created all things, the heaven and the sea 
and the unwearying sun and the moon at her full, and 
the shining stars, the mighty mother Tethys, fountains 
and rivers, fire undying, days and nights. He is the God 

2 5 who formed Adam, name of four letters, who was first 
created, and took the full meaning of his name from 
East and West and South and North; and He estab- 
lished the form and shape of mortals, and made the 
beasts, birds and creeping things. Ye worship Him 

30 not, nor do ye fear God, but vainly err, adoring serpents 

II. "The belief in the one invisible spiritual God, who, Himself 
uncreated, has called out from Himself this visible creaturely world, 
is the supreme essential in the mission-preaching of Hellenistic 
Judaism" (Bousset, Jf. /. 296). The Jewish verses ascribed to 
Orpheus, ^Eschylus, Sophocles, etc., illustrate this as clearly as do 
the Sibylline books: cf. IV. 10 ff., and Exod. xxiv. 9-11 (LXX.), as 
contrasted with Ps. xvii. 15, Isaiah xxxviii. II. 

18. The name: cf. Lev. xviii. 16 (LXX.). " He that nameth the 
name of the Lord, let him die the death," and the legend quoted 
from Alex. Polyhistor by Eus., Prcep. Ev. IX. xxvii. "and when 
the king (Pharaoh) heard it (the Name) he fell speechless." Cf. 
Bousset, R.J. 302 ff. 

25. The four letters of Adam represent Anatole, Dusis, Arktos, 
Mesembria ; cf. 2 Enoch, 30. 13; this "acrostic" reappears in 
ps-Cyprian De Montibus Sina et Sion, 4. It implies the existence 
of a tradition that Greek was the original language : cf. Jub. 3, 28, 
note. 

30. See the similar denunciations of Egyptian animal-worship 
in V. 77 ff., 279 f., etc. The topic was congenial to Jewish and 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 4? 

and doing sacrifice to cats and dumb idols, and to 
images of men wrought in stone, and to godless temples, 
sitting before their doors ; | ye do not pay observance to 
the God Who is, who guardeth all things, ye who rejoice 
in vile stones, forgetting the judgement of the immortal 35 
Saviour who made heaven and earth. Ah, bloodthirsty 
race, guileful, evil, impious : race of false men, double- 
tongued, crafty, adulterous, guileful in mind, in whose 
breasts evil is implanted, a raging frenzy : who grasp at 40 
plunder for themselres, shameless in spirit; for none 
that has wealth and possessions will give a share to 
another, but grievous wickedness shall be found among 
all mortals, and they will not keep faith, but many a 
woman that is a widow will give herself in secret love 
to men, and will not keep to the plumb-line of life in 45 
wedlock. 

45-62. Woes upon Rome : the Messianic Kingdom and 

Judgement. 

But when Rome shall rule over Egypt, though still 
delaying, then shall the great kingdom of the immortal 

Christian apologists alike ; cf. Letter of Aristeas, 1 38, Justin, Apol. 
i. 24, 2. 

35. Saviour: cf. Wisd. xvi. 7, Ecclus. li. I, I Mace. iv. 30, 
3 Mace. vi. 32. 

46-62. The dating of this passage depends partly on the identi- 
fications of the "three" in 1. 52, and partly on the interpretation of 
11. 46-7. (a) If the "three" are the Second Triumvirate, Antony, 
Lepidus, Octavius, the passage is not earlier than the period between 
43 and 31 B.C., when Roman sovereignty in Egypt, already asserted 
by the removal of Ptolemy Auletes in 51 B.C., had not yet been 
organized as it was after the battle of Actium. (6) A less likely 
interpretation identifies the "three" with the First Triumvirate, 
Caesar, Pompey and Crassus, 60 B.C.; the miseries of the Second 
Triumvirate might well be described as laying Rome waste, but 
the words would hardly fit the situation of 60 B.C. (c) It is still 
less likely that 1. 46 refers to the discomfiture of Antiochus Epiphanes 
by Popillius Lsenas at Eleusis in 168 B.C., the "three" being on 
that view the Gracchi, (d) Lanchester is inclined to refer 1. 46 to 



48 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

king appear among men, and a holy king shall come 

50 who shall have rule over the whole earth for all ages of 

the course of time. Then shall implacable wrath fall 

upon the men of Latium ; three men shall ravage Rome 

with pitiable affliction ; and all men shall perish beneath 

their own roof-tree, when the torrent of fire shall flow 

55 down from heaven. Ah, wretched me, when shall that 

day come, and the judgement of immortal God, the 

great king? Yet still be ye builded, ye cities, and all 

adorned with temples and theatres, with market squares 

and images of gold, silver and stone, that so ye may 

60 come to the day of bitterness. For it shall come, when 

the smell of brimstone shall pass upon all men. But I 

. will tell out singly how many are the cities in which men 

shall suffer ill. 



the bequest of Cyrene to the Roman people by Ptolemy Apion in 
96 B.C., and to identify the "three" with Marius, Sulla and Cinna. 

But (i) a comparison of the Messianic figure in 11. 49-50 with 
that in Ps. Sol. xvii. 23 ff., I Enoch, 48. 5, 2 Baruch, 72. 2 ff., 
suggests a late date for the passage ; and (2) this is supported by 1. 54 : 
the predicted conflagration is universal and "apocalyptic": it can 
hardly refer to any actual event (such as the fire on the Capitol in 
83 B.C.). Now the conception of a world-destroying fire preceding 
the New Age is a feature of late Apocalyptic (Bousset, R.J., cf. III. 
83 ff., V. 54 ff., 72 ff.; and it seems, therefore, probable that 46-62 
belongs to the latest Jewish stratum of Book III. 

The rule of the holy King in 11. 46 ff. ends in judgement and 
calamity. Similarly, in I Enoch 91. 11-19, 93- I-I 4 the "eighth 
week " is that of a kingdom which ends in judgement : cf. Sib., III. 
652-660, and I Cor. xv. 23-28. Dominant in late Apocalyptic 
(as in Rev. xx. and 2(4) Ezra), this conception is foreign to the 
earlier literature. Whether it is pre-Christian at all seems to be 
doubtful. 

60. brimstone. Luke xvii. 29 f. = Gen. xix. 24. 

63 ff. Who are the Sebasteni from whom Belial is to come ? 
According to Bousset, Antichrist, 96 f. (E. T. ) they are the August! ; 
Antichrist is to spring from the dynasty of the Caesars, a view not 
easy to square with Bousset's belief that the passage is earlier than 
the age of Augustus. When Suetonius says (Nero xl.) that the 
dominion of the East and the kinrd'Mn of TiHah were foretold 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 49 

63-92, 93-96. Miracles and Doom of Antichrist ; the 
final Conflagration ; return of the Messiah. 

Now from the Sebastenes shall Belial return, and he 
shall move the high mountains, still the sea, shall make 65 
the great blazing sun and the bright moon stand still, 
shall raise the dead and do many signs among men : 
yet shall his signs not be fulfilled. But he leads 
many astray, and shall deceive many faithful and elect 
of the Hebrews, and lawless men besides, who never 70 
yet hearkened to God's word. 

But when the threatenings of the great king come 
near to fulfilment, and a fiery power comes through the 
deep to land and burns up Belial and all men of pride, 
even all that put their trust in him : then shall the 75 
world be ruled beneath a woman's hand, and obey her 
in all things. And when a widow rules over the whole 
world, and casts gold and silver into the deep sea with 

to Nero during his lifetime, it is to a tradition of this kind that he 
refers. 

But, according to Geffcken and Jiilicher, the Sebasteni are the 
people of Samaria, which was re-named Sebaste by Herod the 
Great in 25 B.C. ; the Antichrist from Samaria must be connected 
with Simon Magus, and the whole passage shows a Christian hand. 

63. Beliar : on the name see Bousset, JR. J. 328 f. The Anti- 
christ of Sib. V. is a tyrant ; here he is a false prophet, as often in 
Christian tradition, e.g. 2 Thess. ii. 1-12, Rev. xiii. 1-18 (cf. 
i John ii. 18, etc.), Mark xiii. 22, 2 Thess. ii. gf. ; Didache 16, 
"then shall appear the deceiver of the world as Son of God." He 
is called Beliar as in 2 Cor. vi. 15 : so also in Asc. Is. iv. 2. 

64. (TTTjcrej apparently here = raise up, take away, remove, in 
65 "cause to stand still," and in 66 merely "raise up." For the 
portents of Antichrist (Mark xiii. 22) see Bousset, Antichrist (\L.T.}, 
175 ff. 

75. The Woman, and the Widow of 1. 77 are Rome (rather than 
Cleopatra) ; Rev. xvii. 3, etc. : cf. Sib. VIII. 194. 

78. Cast gold and silver into the sea. It is tempting to see here 
a reference to Nero's vast project, actually begun and abandoned, 
of cutting a canal from Lake Avernus to Ostia ; Tac. Ann. xv. 42, 
Suet. Nero 31. 



50 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

80 the bronze and iron of short-lived mortals, then shall all 
the elements of the world be as one widowed, when God 
that dwelleth in the heavens shall roll up the sky as a 
book is rolled up: and the whole firmament with its 
many signs shall fall upon the earth and the sea ; and 

85 then shall flow a ceaseless torrent of liquid fire, and 
shall burn up the earth and burn up the sea, and melt 
down the firmament of heaven, the days and the very 
creation, fusing them into one clear mass. 

And then no longer does one pay heed to the 
planetary spheres that laugh aloud, nor to night nor 

90 daybreak, nor to day following day, nor to spring and 
summer, autumn and winter. And then shall come 
forth the judgement of the great God, in the great age, 
when all these things come to pass. 

Ah, for the waters where go the ships, and for all the 
dry land, when that sun rises which shall not set again ! 
95 All things shall obey him when he returns to the world ; 
therefore was he the first to know his own power. 

80. Cf. Sib. II, 206 ff., Isaiah xxxiv. 4, 2 Pet. iii. 10. The 
"elements" here and in Sib. II. are (air), earth, sea, starry 
heaven, day and niyht. 

87. A faint reminiscence of Mai. iii. 3, \tavt\xav Kal Ka8aplwi>. 

89 f. Close parallels in 2(4) Ezra vii. 39 f., cf. 2 Enoch 65-7. The 
"great age "is one and timeless: 2 Enoch 33. 2, "I appointed 
. . . that at the beginning of the eight thousand years there should 
be a time of not-counting, endless, with neither years nor months 
nor weeks nor days nor hours." For the place of this conception 
in Stoic doctrine see Zeller, III. i. 154, note 2, Phil, der Gr. ; for 
Jewish illustrations, and Persian analogues, Bousset, R.J. 232 ff., 
476, note 3. 

92. The great God. For the increased stress laid upon the 
Divine transcendence in later Judaism, and its influence upon names 
and attributes employed, see Bousset, R. J. 302 ff., especially 305, 
note 8. 

93-6. Clearly Christian ; on 95 cf. I Cor. xv. 27, Heb. ii. 8 ; 
the line is apparently quoted in Ps. Just. Coh. ad Gr. 38. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 51 

97-154. The Tower of Babel : myth of Kronos and 
the Titans. 

But when the threatenings of the great king come to 
fulfilment, wherewith once he threatened mankind, when 
they built a tower in the land of Assyria, and were all 
of one speech, and wished to climb up to the starry Ioo 
heaven, then straightway the Immortal laid a great com- 
mand upon the winds : and when the winds cast down 
the tower great and high, and stirred up strife among 
mortals against each other; then did mortals give the 
name of Babylon to their city. 

But when the tower had fallen, and the languages of 105 
men were changed into divers tongues, then the whole 
world of men was filled with divided kingdoms; and 
then was the tenth generation of mortal men since the 
deluge came upon those of old time. Then reigned no 
Kronos, Titan and lapetus, the noblest children of Gaia 
(earth) and Ouranos (heaven), whom men called Earth 
and Heaven because they were the foremost of mortal 
men. These had each for his portion a third part of 
the earth, and each held and ruled his own portion "5 



96. The text is obscure ; Lancbester conjectures eV^yvue for 
iirffva ; "forasmuch as he first fashioned them, and his might"; 
but possibly fireyvca or fireyv&KGi. is right, and the allusion is to 
such a consciousness of power as is expressed in Matt. xi. 27. 

97-154. Geffcken has shown {Nachrichten der k. Gesellschaft zu 
Gottingen, 1900, 88 ff., TU 2 ff.) that this section is a Jewish 
redaction of material from the Babylonian Sibyl. Alexander 
Folyhistor (in Josephus, Ant. I. iv. 3) knew the Babylonian version ; 
he quotes the Sibyl for the stoiy of the tower, thus: "but the 
gods sent winds and overthrew the tower, and gave each man a 
separate language." Other refs. in Geffcken's note. 

113. they were . . . mortal men: this is not merely an 
" euhemerism " ; it is directly derived from Euhemerus, from whose 
"humanized mythology" the Babylonian Sibyl took the whole 
story of the Titans, as may be seen from Ennius' version of 
Euhemerus quoted in Lactantius, Div, fnsf. I. 14, 2. 



52 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

without conflict; for an oath had been laid on them 
by their father and a just apportionment. But when the 
full time came, and their father was old, then he died : 
then his sons transgressed grievously the oath and stirred 

1 20 up strife against each other, which of them should have 
royal honour and rule over all mankind; and now 
Kronos and now Titan fought against the others. But 
them did Rhea and Gaia and Aphrodite lover of garlands 
with Demeter and Hestia and fair-tressed Dione bring 
to agreement : for they gathered together all the kings, 

125 their brothers' kindred, and those of their own blood, 
and others such as were of one blood and parentage 
with them ; and they adjudged that Kronos as king 
should rule over all, for that he was eldest and noblest 
to look upon. Thereupon Titan laid upon Kronos a 

130 great oath, that he would not bring up male offspring 
which should have kingship when old age and destiny 
should come upon Kronos : but whenever Rhea bore a 
child, by her sat the Titans, and tore in pieces all the 
men-children, but the maids they left alive with their 

135 mother, to be reared. But when the lady Rhea brought 
forth for the third time, she bare Hera first, and when 
they saw with their eyes that the child was a maid, the 
Titans those fierce men went off by themselves : and 
then Rhea brought forth a man-child; him she sent 

140 swiftly to be nurtured apart and in secret, to Phrygia, 
laying three men, Cretans, under an oath ; therefore they 
called him Zeus, because he was sent thither. And in 

1 1 6. oath . . . apportionment; with this may be compared 
Noah's division of the earth into three lots, and the oath with 
which it was ratified ; see Jub. 8 and 9, esp. 8, II ff., 9, 14. 

141. A/a . . . b-ri^i fiieire/j.<f>0r). The usual Stoic account of the 
name Ai'a is that through Zeus all things were made ; this re- 
appears in Jewish writings, e.g., Aristeas, 16. The Sibyllist's 
version is on a lower level of intelligence. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 53 

like manner she sent over Poseidon secretly. Yet a 
third time Rhea that fair goddess bare Pluto, on her 
way past Dodona, whence flow the watery ways of the 14:5 
river Europus, and pass to mingle with Peneius, and 
men call the stream Stygian. But when the Titans 
heard that there were men-children kept secretly, whom 
Kronos had begotten of Rhea his consort, then Titan 
gathered his sixty sons and kept in bondage Kronos and 150 
Rhea his consort, hid them in the earth, and kept them 
in bonds and in ward. This then the sons of mighty 
Kronos heard, and stirred up great war and battle 
against him ; and this was the beginning of war for all 155 
mortals. 

And then God made evil to come upon the Titans, 
and all the offspring of the Titans and of Kronos 
perished. But then in the course of time he raised up 
the kingdom of Egypt, then of the Persians, Medes, 160 
^thopians and Assyrian Babylon ; thereafter of the 
Macedonians, then again that of Egypt, and then of 
Rome. 

162-195. The Kingdoms of the earth, down to Rome as 
the destroyer of the Seleucids. 

Thereon the voice of the great God arose in my heart, 
and bade me prophesy over all the earth and before 
kings, and to put them in mind of that which was to 
be. And this first did God give into my mind, how ^ 
many empires shall be raised up among men. 

161. The insertion of Egypt in the series of world-powers be- 
tween Macedonia and Rome betrays an Egyptian hand 

156-210. The disorder of this section is inextricable. The 
general idea seems to be a transition from the myth of the Titans 
to an outline of world-history, ending with that of Israel : and this 
transition is repeated in several forms, with matter of very various 
dates and kinds entangled in it. Thus in 156-161 we have the series 



54 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

First of all the house of Solomon shall bear rule, f and 
the Phoenicians, invaders of Asia and the isles as well, 
and the race of Pamphylians, the Persians and Phrygians, 

170 the Carians and Mysians, and the wealthy race of 
Lydia. 

But then shall come the Greeks, proud and profane 
people ; then that other people, the Macedonian, great 
and diverse, who shall come upon men as a dread cloud 
of war ; but the God of heaven shall utterly root them 
out. 

175 But then there shall be the beginning of another 
empire from the western sea, white and many-headed, 
which shall rule over wide lands, and overthrow many 
and make all kings to fear thereafter, and ravish much 

180 gold and silver out of many cities ; but yet again there 
shall be gold in the fair earth, and therewith silver and 
precious things : and they shall vex mankind. But great 
shall be the fall of those men, when they fall to pride 
and unrighteousness. Straightway they shall be driven 
185 into impious doings : men with men shall have inter- 
course, and they will put boys for hire in houses of 
shame ; and in those days there shall be great tribula- 
tion among men, and it shall bring all to confusion 
and disorder, filling the world with evils, through base- 

Titans, Egypt, Persia, etc. , Macedonia, Egypt, Rome ; then in 
167 ff. House of Solomon, Phoenicians, etc., Lydia, Hellas, Mace- 
donia, Rome; and again in 199 Titans, Hellas, Persia, etc., 
Israel. After this comes (218-294) a fairly continuous prophecy of 
Israel, its origin, character, exile, restoration, and Messianic King. 

176. many -headed: i.e. a republic. 

178. Cf. the account of the Roman power in I Mace. viii. 2-4. 

185 f. While the body of this passage, and especially 11. 194-5, 
seems to reflect the feeling of I Mace, viii., and may belong to the 
same period, the accusation of 1. 185 must be far later : it has many 
parallels in the Christian apologists (Just. Apol. i. 27, Athenag. 
Leg* 34, Tatian, Or. 28, etc.), but was not true of Rome in the 
Maccabean period. * 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 55 

living love of gain, through wealth ill-gotten, and that in 190 
many lands, but in Macedonia most of all. It shall stir up 
hatred, and guile of all kinds shall be found among them 
[down to the seventh king's reign, the reign of a king 
of Egypt, a Greek by birth]. 

Then shall the people of the great God once more 195 
be strong, they who are to be the guides of life to 
all mankind. 

But what is this that God has put in my mind to utter, 
even the first, the next, and the last calamity that 
shall fall upon mankind, and the beginning of these 
things ? 

First shall God bring calamity upon the Titans ; for 200 
they shall receive punishment at the hands of the sons 
of mighty Kronos, for that they bound Kronos and 
the lawful mother of his children. Next shall tyrants 
rule over Greece, and lawless kings, proud and unholy, 
breakers of wedlock and wholly evil; then shall men 
have no more rest from war. The terrible Phrygians 205 
shall all perish, and evil shall come upon Troy in that 
day. Thereafter shall evil come to the Persians and 
Assyrians and all Egypt and Libya, upon the Ethiopians, 
on the Carians and Pamphylians f a ruin of exile, and to 210 
all men alike. Why declare these things one by 
one? 

190. Here we appear to return to the second century B.C., the 
reference being to the battle of Pydna, 168 B.C., which brought to 
an end the empire of Alexander the Great ; but 182-9 appears to be 
clumsily interpolated. 

195. Cf. Ath. de Inc. xii. : "the prophets . . . were for all the 
world a holy school of the knowledge of God and the conduct of 
the soul"; and Philo. Vit. Mas. ii. 4: "the law attracts and 
converts all men, Greeks and barbarians . . . the whole inhabited 
world from one end to the other." 



56 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

211-294. The Jewish people, their character and history, 
down to the return from exile. 

As soon as the first woe shall come to an end, the 
next shall come upon men. Yet will I declare the first 
things evil shall come upon the god-fearing who dwell 
around the great temple of Solomon and are the offspring 

215 of righteous fathers. Yet will I declare the tribes of 
these men, and the generation of their fathers, and their 
people, circumspectly, thou man of many wiles and 
crafty mind. 

There is on earth a city, Ur of the Chaldees, from 

220 which springs a race of upright men, ever given to wise 
counsel and good works. For they busy themselves not 
with the circling course of the sun, or the moon, nor 
with monstrous things below the earth, nor with the 
depth of the sparkling sea of Ocean, nor the signs of 

225 birds and winged fowls, nor with diviners nor sorcerers 
nor enchanters, nor with the deceitful follies of ven- 
triloquists, nor do they predict by the stars as do the 
Chaldaeans, nor consult the heavenly bodies ; for all 
those things are deceitful, all that foolish men search 

230 out day after day, exercising their minds in toil which 
has no profit : and they have taught lessons of shame 

218. A city. The MSS. have a lacuna in this line : Ian ir6\ts . . . 
arct x0 OJ/ 2>s Ofcp XoA.Sofw*'. The missing word is "Camarina." 
The Jewish historian Eupolemus (in Eus., Prap. Ev. IX. 17. 3) 
said that Abraham was born in the tenth (or thirteenth) generation 
after the fall of the tower of Babel, in the Babylonian city Camarina, 
called also Urie ; and that he was the inventor oi astrology and 
Chaldrean science. It would seem that 217-233 is an attack on this 
tradition, based on scriptural grounds (Deut. xviii. IO, Isaiah xlvii. 
13. etc.). 

223. sparkling: Xapoiroio. This uncommon word is a literary 
link between Or. Sib., ps. Sophocles, and the Jewish Orphic verses. 

234-246. For this list of virtues, cf. Sib. II. 56 ff.. and Bousset 
*./. 399f- 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 57 

and error to men, wherefrom many evils visit men upon 
the earth, to cause them to err from good ways and 235 
righteous works. But these take thought for uprightness 
and goodness, not for love of gain, which brings forth 
countless evils among mortal men, war and famine with- 
out end. They keep just measure in town and country, 
they go not a-stealing from one another by night, nor 
drive off herds of oxen, sheep and goats, nor does neigh- 240 
bour remove neighbour's landmark, nor a wealthy man 
oppress a poorer, nor deal harshly with the widow, but 
rather helps her with supplies of corn and wine and 
oil. Ever does he that has abundance among the 
people give a portion of his harvest to them that have 
nothing and are in poverty, fulfilling the command of the 245 
great God, the oracle of the law ; for the Lord of heaven 
made the earth to be possessed by all in common. 

But when the people of the twelve tribes shall leave 
Egypt, and go out on its way led by men divinely sent, 
led on their journey by night by a pillar of fire, and by a 250 
pillar of cloud all the hours of the day, over them He 
will set a great man as leader, even Moses, whom a 
princess found and took from a reed-bed, and brought 
him up and called him her son. And when he came 
leading the people which God brought from Egypt to 255 
the sheer mountain of Sinai, God gave them His law 
from heaven, writing all the ordinances of righteousness 
on two tables, and bade them to keep them ; and if one 
should disobey, he should suffer the penalty of the law 

235. Cf. I Tim. vi. 10, and Bernard's note, in Camb. Gk. Test. 
The sentiment comes from the common stock of Hellenic maxims. 

247. In common : A Stoical principle adopted by Jewish teachers, 
which afterwards (partly through the influence of Cicero) found 
wide acceptance and constant expression in Christian ethical writers ; 
cf. e.g. Ambrose in Ps. cviii. 8, Dominus Deus noster terram hanc 
possessionem omnium hominum voluit esse communem : see A. J. 
and W. W. Carlyle, Medieval Political Theory, ch. xii. 



58 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

260 either at the hands of men, or escaping men's judgement 
should most justly perish. . . . 

For them only the grain-bearing earth brings her full 
harvest a hundred-fold, fulfilling the measure of God. 

265 But upon them too shall evil fall, nor shall they escape 
pestilence. And thou also shalt go into exile, and leave 
the fair temple-court, for it is thy fate to leave the holy 
ground. And thou shalt be taken away to the Assyrians, 

270 and see thy little children and thy wives enslaved among 
thine enemies : all thy livelihood and wealth shall be 
destroyed : and all the earth shall be filled with thee, 
and all the sea : every man shall hold thy ordinances in 
hatred; and all thy land shall be desolate, and the 
builded altar and the temple of the great God and the 

275 long walls shall all fall to the ground, because thou didst 
not set thy mind to obey the holy law of immortal God, 
but didst err and serve shapeless idols, and wouldst not 
honour the God of all mankind, nor fear the immortal 
Father of gods and of all men, but didst honour images, 

280 the work of men. Wherefore thy fruitful land shall be 
desolate, and the wonders of the temple, for seven times 
ten years. Yet a good end awaits thee, and great glory, 
as immortal God hath decreed for thee ; but wait thou, 

285 and trust the holy law of the great God, until he lift up 
and make straight thy knees that are weary, unto the 
light. And then shall God send a king from heaven (or, 
the God of heaven shall send a king) and shall judge 

276 ff. Cf. Jerem. v. 19, etc. 

280. Cf. Jerem. xxv. 12. 

286-7. C* n 'hi 5 passage see Introd. p. 31. In the king divinely 
sent to end the exile one would expect to find a reference to Cyrus ; 
but here we have an eschatological figure instead. 

287. blood and . . . fire. Cf. Isaiah Ixvi. 15-16, Ezek. xxxviii, 
22. 

288-9. Cf. Gen. xlix. 8 f. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 59 

every man in blood and blazing fire. But there is a 
royal tribe whose seed shall not stumble, and it shall 
reign as time follows time, and shall begin to raise up 
the temple of God anew. And all the kings of the 290 
Persians shall lend their aid, with brass and gold and 
wrought iron. For God himself shall send a holy dream 
by night, and then shall the temple be restored again as 
it was. 

295-333. Jewish oracles on Babylon, Egypt, Gog and 
Magog, and Libya. 

When my soul ceased from the hymn inspired, then 295 
I besought the great father that I might rest from my 
labour ; but again the voice of the great God rose up in 
my breast, and bade me prophesy over every land, and 
to kings, and to instruct them of things which should 
come to pass. 

And this first did God put in my mind to say, even all 300 
the distressful woes which the Immortal had devised 
against Babylon, because she laid waste his great temple. 

Woe to thee, Babylon, and to you, ye men of Assyria : 
a rushing sound shall come one day upon all the land of 
sinners, and a shout of battle shall destroy all the land 305 
of men, even a stroke from the hand of great God, who 
putteth songs in our mouth. 

For from above He shall come upon thee, O Babylon, 
riding on the air [yea, from heaven He shall descend 

291. Cf. Ezr. vii. 15 f. 
293. Cf. perhaps I Esdr. iii. 13 ff., LXX. 
303 ff. Cf. Isaiah xiii. 4 ff., xlvii. I ff. 
307. Cf. Isaiah xiii. 5, LXX. 



60 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

upon thee from the Holy place], and eternal destruction 
310 upon the children of wrath, f And then shalt thou be as 
thou wert before, as one that has never been ; and then 
shalt thou be filled with blood, as once thou didst shed 
the blood of the good and upright and holy, whose blood 
even now cries to high heaven. 

315 Upon thee, O Egypt, a great blow shall fall and a 
terrible, upon thy house, such as thou never thoughtest 
should come upon thee. For a sword shall pass through 
the midst of thee, dispersion and death and famine shall 
rest on thee in the seventh generation of thy kings, and 
then shalt thou have rest. 

320 Woe to thee, land of Gog and Magog, in the midst of 
the rivers of Ethiopia : what a stream of blood shall flow 
out upon thee, and thou shalt be called among men the 
house of judgement, and thy land shall drink and be 
drenched with red blood. 

Woe to thee, Libya ; woe, sea and land : daughters 

325 of the West, to how bitter a day shall ye come ! and 
ye shall come under the pursuing of a grievous con- 

310. Cf. Isaiah xiii. 19, Apoc. Bar. xxxi. 5. 

314-18. The reference is apparently, as in 608-615 infr., to the 
invasion of Egypt by Antiochus Epiphanes in the time of Ptolemy 
Physkon (Euergetes II., 146 B.C.), and the passage thus will belong 
to the earliest Jewish stratum of the book. 

319. Gog and Magog, The prophecies of Ezek. xxxviii.-xxxix., 
in which Gog of the land of Magog is a mighty adversary who will 
be raised up against Israel in the latter years and will then be utterly 
destroyed, exercised a strong influence upon Jewish eschatological 
conceptions. Here and 512 infr. Gog and Magog are the adversary 
whose annihilation must precede the Messianic age ; cf. Rev. xx. 
7 f.,l Enoch 56, 2 Baruch 70. 7-10 : also Num. xxiv. (LXX.). For 
the influence of this idea in later Judaism see Bousset, R. J, 206 f. , 
Antichrist, Index. 

The identification of Gog and Magog with Ethiopia (and not with 
northern peoples as in Ezek. xxxix. 2) accords with V. 505 f., where 
the coming of the last things follows on an Ethiopian invasion, but 
is not found elsewhere. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 61 

flict, hard and terrible : a dread judgement shall there 
be once more, and ye shall all be driven to destruction, 
for that ye laid waste the holy house of the Immortal, 
and gnawed it grievously with teeth of iron. Therefore 330 
shalt thou see thy land full of dead bodies, slain by 
war, by every onset of God, by famine and pestilence, 
and by foes of savage heart (or of strange speech) and 
all thy land shall be desolate, and the fortress of thy 
city (or, and thy cities forsaken). 



334-33 6 - An ora ^ e </44 B.C. (?). 
But in the West a star shall shine, which men will call 
the long-haired star, a sign of the sword, of famine and 335 
death to men, of the slaughterf of great captains and 
men of renown. 

337-355. Hellenic oracles. 

And yet again there shall be great signs among men ; 
for deep-eddying Tanais shall fail from the lake Maeotis, 
and down the deep stream-bed shall go the furrow of a 
fruitful field, and the river shall stay its many branches. 340 
Chasms and yawning gulfs shall break open ; many cities 
shall fall in ruins with all their people : in Asia, lassus, 
Kebren, Pandonia,| Colophon, Ephesus, Nicaea, Antioch, 

328. the holy house : i. e. a temple in Egypt, not that at 
Jerusalem ; cf. V. 507. 

334-6. This prediction corresponds with the circumstances of 
B.C. 44, and may have been suggested by them ; in that year, after 
the death of Julius Caesar, the young Octavian celebrated games to 
Venus Victrix, in commemoration of the victory of Pharsalus ; 
during the games a comet of exceptional brightness was visible for 
seven days, and was believed to be the soul of Ctesar. Suetonius, 
fttlius 88, Plin. Aiz/. Hist. II. 94. 

338-349. The names given do not tally with the records of any 
known disaster, such as that mentioned in Tac. Ann. II. 47 ; yet it 
is possible that the writer has grouped with the cities actually visited 
by some definite calamity others known to have been so affected at 
some time. The passage defies clear explanation. 



62 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

345 S va g ra j Sinope, Smyrna, Myrine,f Gaza with all its wealth, 
Hierapolis, Astypalsea; and in Europe Cyagraf renowned, 
f royal Meropeia, Antigone, Magnesia, jdivine Mycene. 
Know thou then that the doomed race of Egypt is near 
its ruin, and then shall they of Alexandria wish that this 
year was as last. 

350 For all the wealth that Rome took from tributary Asia, 
three times as much shall Asia take from Rome, re- 
quiting upon her her cursed arrogance : and for all the 
men who were taken from Asia to go and dwell in Italy, 

355 twenty times so many men of Italy shall serve in Asia 
as penniless slaves, and a thousand-fold shall be the 
requital. 

356-380. Jewish oracles against Rome. 

Daughter of Latin Rome, clothed in gold and luxury, 
drunken full oft with thy wedding of many wooers, thou 
shalt be a slave-bride in dishonour, and oft shall thy 
360 mistress cut off thy flowing hair, and do justice on thee 
and cast thee down from heaven to earth, and yet 
again lift thee from earth to heaven, because men gave 
themselves to evil and unrighteous living. 

And Samos shall become a sand, Delos be deleted, 
and Rome a mere alley ; and all that is foretold shall be 

350-5. From the Mithridatic war of 88 B.C. ; a brief allusion to 
the same period is to be found in IV. 145-8. 

356-62. If this oracle against Rome is a continuation of the pre- 
ceding lines, it must owe 362 at least to a Jewish reviser ; the moral 
reason for the downfall of Rome is by no means in the spirit of 

35>-5- 

363 f. Old Hellenic material has been used here : cf. IV. 91 f. 
Geffck. quotes Callimachus, Hymns IV. 53 for ArjAos #5jA.os. The 
jingle about Samos seems to have no assignable meaning ; but if 
the lines come from the time of the Mithridatic war it is worth 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 63 

fulfilled; but none shall take account of the ruin of 365 
Smyrna. There shall be an avenger, f but through evil 
counsels and the cowardice of her captains . . . and 
calm peace shall make her way to the land of Asia : and 
Europe then shall be blessed, the air fruitful year after 
year, healthy, without frost and hail, bringing forth beasts 370 
and birds and creeping things of the earth. Blessed 
shall the man and woman be who lives to see that time,f 
as are they who dwell in the isles of the blest ; |f r l aw 
and justice shall come from the starry heaven upon men, 
and with them wise concord, best of all gifts for mortals, 
and love and faith and hospitable ways ; but lawlessness, 375 
blame, envy, anger and madness shall depart. Poverty 
and penury shall flee from men in those days, with 
murder and accursed strife and grievous wrangling, 
theft by night and every ill. 3^ 

381-387. An oracle on Alexander. 

But Macedonia shall bring forth a grievous bane for 
Asia, and for Europe a great woe mature its fruit, from 

noticing that Delos was laid waste hy the sea-forces of Mithridates 
in 89 B.C. In 364 Kal 'POJ/XTJ pvn.T) is modelled on the assonances of 
363. Tertullian (De Pallia 2) quotes the line as a fulfilled prophecy : 
"inter insulas nulla iam Delos, harense Samos, et Sibylla non 
mendax." 

367 ff. The prophecy of peace upon Asia may belong to what 
precedes it, but the passage, from 371 onwards, has a Jewish or 
Christian rather than a Hellenic cast ; cf. 619-23 infr. 

372. Cf. IV. 192. But the text (KfVit<paros oaaov &ypav\os) is very 
corrupt. Geffck. suggests an elaborately ingenious conjecture, 
which would make the line definitely Christian fuuefytn> /cev ?? 
tpdrts is iv a,ypav\ois " it would be tidings of the blessed ones, 
as among the shepherds." 

381-7. An oracle on Alexander the Great : possibly from the 
Persian Sibyl. In Nicanor's Life of Alexander, quoted from Varro 
by Lactantius (Inst. I. 6, 8), it was stated that this Sibyl foretold the 
career of Alexander in no favourable terms, as it may be supposed. 
On the other hand, the Erythraean Sibyl acknowledged the divinity 
of Alexander. 



64 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

the sons of Kronos, a race of bastards and slaves. That 
race shall subdue the strong-built city of Babylon, and 
385 having been called mistress of every land which the sun 
looks on shall perish by an evil fate, and shall leave a 
name only to descendants scattered far and wide. 

388-400. On Antiochus Epiphanes (?). 

And to the happy shore of Asia shall come a man 
unheard of before, f having a purple robe cast about his 

388-400. There are two textual difficulties which make it hard 
to provide any satisfactory interpretation here, (a) In 397 the MSS. 
have iropa 8); (8e) <pvrov &\\o tyvreuffti; but in XI. 251, where parts 
of the passage reappear, the reading is irplv 5?j KT\. (t>) In 399 
KO.VTUS v(p" vliav itiv is o/j.ocppova alaiov &ppys is hopeless. Geffck. 
suggests if<f>' viiavuv tv dpotppocrvvriffiv "Aprjos. 

Three lines of interpretation may be mentioned (l) Hilgenfeld 
took the " man" of 1. 389 to be Aniiochus Epiphanes, who put an 
end to the family of his brother Seleucus IV. : while a son of 
Seleucus, Demetrius, killed Antiochus V., Eupator, the only de- 
scendant of Ant. Epiphanes. The ' ' other shoot " of 397 (following 
the reading of the MSS.) is Alexander Balas; the " warlike sire" 
of 398 is Demetrius I. ; the " sons " who make an end of Alex. Balas 
are Demetrius II. and Antiochus Sidetes, and the " parasite horn" of 
400 is the usurper Tryphon. The difficulties in this theory are that 
it requires the <pvro>> of 397 to become the subject of /coif ft in the 
following line ; and that Antiochus Sidetes had, in fact, nothing to 
do with the downfall of Balas. (2) Geffcken's solution (making the 
two textual changes mentioned above) connects the passage with 
Antiochus Cyzicenus and his struggles against his half-brother 
Grypos and Grypos' sons. Cyzicenus would fain destroy the 
family of one whose sons are destined to destroy his own. He puts 
out one shoot, Antiochus Eusebes, whom Philip the descendant of 
ten kings, strikes down before another is planted ; and though he 
strikes down Grypos, he himself is the victim of Grypos' nephews. 

Here, again, two obstacles are met with ; for Cyzicenus, in fact, 
fell in battle against the Parthians : and, as Geffcken admits, vluvos 
does not mean "nephew " but "grandson." 

Thus neither (i) nor (2) can claim to be a consistent solution of 
the difficulty. As far as 1. 398 goes (a man unheard of before), one 
might think of Demetrius I., Antiochus Cyzicenus, or Antioclms 
Epiphanes with equal appropriateness, for each of these made a 
dramatic and sudden appearance in Asia ; but it may be doubted 
whether any other Seleucid than Antiochus Epiphanes can be 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 65 

shoulders, fierce, strange in judgement, fiery ; the thun- 390 
der was his sire : and all Asia shall pass under the yoke 
of oppression, and the earth shall drink and be drenched 
with streams of blood. Yet even so shall he pass utterly 
out of knowledge, and death shall have him in charge ; 
and they whose children he would fain destroy, by their 395 
children shall his line be destroyed ; putting out one 
root, which the Slayer of men shall cut off, from among 
ten heads, before it genders another shoot : he shall cut 
off the warlike sire of the race bred in the purple, and 
perish himself at the hands of his grandsons, f joined in a 
compact of war f ; and then a horn, an off-shoot, shall 400 
reign. 

401-488. Miscellaneous Hellenic Oracles. 

To fruitful Phrygia also shall a sign be given, when the 
foul race of Rhea, an ever-flowing wave, springing from 
roots in the earth never waterless, is utterly abolished in 405 
one night, in the city of Poseidon the earth-shaker, and 
with all its men, the city which they shall call Dorylaeum 

intended by 11. 388-391. The three epithets in 390 (the last half 
of the line, one may admit, is incomprehensible) can all be illus- 
trated from i Mace. i. ; and since the whole passage is partly based 
on Dan. vii. ff., which refers to the reign of Epiphanes, one might 
surmise that it is a picture, though an inaccurate one, of the same 
period. While, then, in its present obscure and corrupt form, 
it may well be considerably later than 175-164 B.C., it still belongs, 
in all probability, to the earliest Jewish stratum of the book. 

(3) Bousset (in Zeitschriftfiirneutestameniliche Wissenschaft, III., 
1902, pp. 23 ff. ) would partly support the above, holding that the 
passage was misunderstood and altered by the Jewish Sibyllist so 
as to make it applicable to a Seleucid king. But he believes that 
all the material comes from the Chaldsean ( = Persian) Sibyl, and 
that in its original form it referred to Alexander the Great. He 
points out that "lightning gave him birth," Asia suffered a yoke, 
" the earth drank blood when he came " ; and identifies the " one 
root " of 396 with the son of Alexander and Roxane. 

401-413. On Phrygia : obscure and impossible to translate. 



66 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

by name, in ancient Phrygia, that dark and lamentable 
land. Until that time he who is called earth-shaker 
shall break open the store-houses of the earth and destroy 
410 fenced cities. But the signs shall be the beginning of 
evil and not of good. tThu(?) shall have for kings men 
skilled in war of nations, offspring of ^Eneas, native sons 
of Ilium, f But thereafter thou shalt be a prey to men 
that are (thy) lovers. 

415 Ilium, I pity thee; for in Sparta an avenging fury 
shall grow up, a fair and goodly shoot of renown, to 
bring a spreading wave of ruin upon Europe and Asia : 
but to thee above all shall she bring lamentation, sorrow 
and groaning as thy portion ; and the fame of it shall not 
grow old among men that are yet to be. 

420 And an old man shall there be, a writer of falsehood, 
false to his country ; his eyes shall be sightless ; he will 
have a cunning mind, and words well fitting his thoughts 
(or, rhythm of verse to clothe his thoughts) blended of 
two names ; he shall call himself a man of Chios, and 
shall write the tale of Ilium, not truly, but with cunning, 



407. Dark (KeAcHXTjj) : according to Wilamowitz this is an 
ancient oracle on Celaense, transferred by the interpolation of 1. 406 
to Dorylseum. 

414-428. That the Erythraean Sibyl (or the Delphic) was earlier 
than or contemporary with the Trojan war, that she foretold it, and 
that Homer borrowed unscrupulously from her prophecies, was 
widely believed in antiquity. These lines appear to be the basis 
of the tradition. For the references in Varro, Pausanias, etc., see 
Alexandre, II. 12 f, and App. to Exc. I. 

412. There is a trace here of the tradition that Ericas and his 
descendants reigned in the Troad down to Homeric times : cf. 
Horn. //. 307 f. (vvv 5< 8)j AtWoo /3/Tj Tp&eaaiv dctiftj KO.\ irafouv 
irotSej KT\), and Hdt. V. 122. 

414. a fury, i.e. Helen: cf. ./Esch. Ag. 749; Eur. Or. 1390 
Verg. ALn. ii. 573 ; Troiae et patrise Communis Erinys. 

422. two names, i.e. 7/zarfand Odyssey, 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 67 

for he shall take my words and measures for his use, and 425 
be the first to open and handle my books. He shall 
bravely deck out the armed men of war, Hector son of 
Priam, Achilles son of Peleus, and the rest whose care is 
for the works of warfare. He will make the gods come 
to their aid, picturing them most falsely as witless mortals. 430 
And to them death at Ilium shall bring the greater fame : 
but he shall reap the reward of his own works. 

And for Lycia the race of Locrus shall breed much ill. 
Thee, Chalcedon, who boldest the passage of the narrow 
strait, shall a child of ^Etolia devastate at his coming. 435 

Cyzicus, from thee the sea shall break off the weight 
of thy wealth ; thou, Byzantium, shalt choose to make 
war in Asiaf ; truly groaning and endless blood shall be 
thy portion. 

From thy peaks, Kragos, high mountain of Lycia, 440 
water shall gush out, when thy rocks split asunder, until 
it put an end to the oracular signs of Patara, 

Cyzicus, dweller on vine-clad Propontis, Rhyndacus 
shall dash his stream about thee in a swelling wave. 

And thou, Rhodes, for long shalt thou keep thy 
freedom, thou short-lived daughter, and much wealth 445 
shall be thine hereafter, and in the sea thou shalt have 
power beyond others : yet thereafter shalt thou be a prey 
to men that are thy lovers, with thy wealth and beauty, 
and a heavy yoke shalt thou have set upon thy neck. 

432. reap : Wilamowitz' conclusive emendation Several for MSS. 
At'lerat. 

444 ff. A clue to these lines may perhaps be looked for in the 
events of 169 B.C. The Rhodians, after a century and a half of 
friendship with Rome, and a period of high commercial prosperity, 
were misled into siding against Rome in the middle of the war 
with Perseus ; and for this they were visited with crushing penalties 
at the end of the war. 

449. This line must refer to the Ionian revolt of 499 B.C., which 



68 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

A Lydian earthquake shall destroy the land of Persia, 

45 and bring horrible woes upon Europe and Asia. I The 
murderous king of Sidon, and the war-cry of strange sea- 
farers, shall fall on the Samians, and they shall come to a 
fatal doom. The ground shall run with blood of the 
slain down to the sea; wives with their fair-robed 

455 daughters shall bewail their dishonour and shame, these 
weeping for their | fathers, these for their sons. 

A sign upon Cyprus ; an earthquake shaking the troops 
in array, and many souls at once shall Hades receive. 
Tralles the neighbour of Ephesus an earthquake 

460 shall destroy both the well-built walls and the wealth 
of a troubled people ; the earth shall spout up water 
boiling hot ; the groaning earth shall swallow them 
down, with a smell of brimstone. 

Samos too on a time shall build a royal palace. 
Upon thee, Italy, no warfare of foreign foes shall 

465 come, but civil bloodshed lamentable and of long con- 
tinuance shall ravish thee, thou famous land, for thy 
shamelessness. And thou, stretched prone among the 
burning ashes, shalt slay thyself, in thy improvident 
heart. Thou shalt be no mother of good men, but a 
nurse of wild beasts. 

470 But when from Italy shall come a man of destruction, 
then thou, Laodicea, fair city of the Carians, by the 

began with the taking of Sardis, and was the prelude to the great 
struggle between Hellas and Persia. The following lines defy 
interpretation. 

464 ff. civil bloodshed: i.e. in the Social War, 91-89 B.C., or 
in the Sullan troubles. 

470. The " man of destruction " may be Sulla, and the time that 
of the Mithridatic war. Laodicea was often damaged by earth- 
quakes : cf., IV. 107, V. 290 ; for references, and for the description 
of Laodicea as a Carian city, see Lightfoot, Colossians 38 note, 
1 8 note. The "father" of the city is Zeus, the tutelary deity of the 
place, from whom its earlier name of Diospolis had been tnken. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 69 

wondrous water of Lycus, shalt fall headlong and lament 
in silence thy proud-vaunting father. 

And the Thracian Krobyzi shall rise up on Haemus. 

The Campanians shall gnash their teeth for the famine 475 
that ravages their city, and for many a year (shall they 
lament their father). 

Corsica and Sardinia shall be sunk below the depths 
of the sea by great blasts of storm-winds, by the smiting 
of the holy god, a great wonder f for the children of the 
sea. Ah, for how many maidens shall death be their 480 
bridal, how many youths unburied shall toss in the 
deep : ah, for little children and great wealth, washed 
away by the sea ! 

Thou happy land of Mysia, thy royal house shall 
suddenly f pass away ; yet for no long time shall Carthage 485 
(? Chalcedon) endure. Lamentable woe shall befall the 
Galatians : to Tenedos the last of ills, but the greatest 
shall come. 

Sicyon with brazen trumpetings shall boast her loudest 
over thee, Corinth ; but the flute shall give back the 
same note in answer. 

Now when my soul had ceased from the hymn 
inspired, then again did the voice of the great God rise 490 
in my breast, bidding me prophesy over the earth. 

Woe to the people of Phoenicia, men and women, 
and to all the cities of the coast ; not one of you shall 

483. The "royal House of Mysia" came to an end in 133 B.C., 
when the Romans took over the kingdom, which Attalus III. had 
bequeathed to them. 

487-8. An obscure reference to events connected with the down- 
fall of Corinth in 146 B.C. In that year the Corinthian territory 
was put under Sicyon. The end of 488 is inexplicable, but has 
a flavour of antiquity. 

492-503. A Jewish oracle against Phoenicia, in the spirit of Isaiah 
xxiii., Jer. xlvii., Ezek. xxvi-xxviii. ; possibly reflecting the anti- 



70 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

495 remain in the light of the sun, the common day, nor 
shall any be numbered among the living, nor any tribe 
survive, by reason of their unrighteous speech, their 
lawless and unholy life, which they all led, opening 
unholy lips ; and dreadful words, false and wicked did 
they spread abroad, and stood up against the great king, 

500 even God, and opened their mouths foully to speak 
falsehood. Therefore He shall bring them down with 
awful visitations over all the earth, and shall send them 
a bitter doom, burning their cities and their foundations 
down to the ground. 

Woe to thee, Crete, isle of sorrows : a blow shall fall 

505 on thee and a dread eternal destruction, and the whole 
earth shall see thy smoke going up ; fire shall not cease 
from thee for ever, but thou shalt be burnt. 

Woe to thee, Thrace : thou shalt bear the yoke of 
slavery, when the Galatians joined to the men of Dar- 

510 dania shall ravage Hellas in their onset : then it shall 
go ill with thee : thou shall give f to a foreign land and 
take nothing. 

Woe to thee, Gog, and to all the people of Magog 
thereafter ... f for all the evil that Fate brings upon 
thee from Mardians and Drangians f and much evil to 

515 the children of Lycia, Mysia, and Phrygia ; many tribes 
of Pamphylians, Lydians, Morians,f Ethiopians, and bar- 
barous peoples, Cappadocians and Arabians shall fall ; 
why tell of each thing in order ? for to all nations that 

Philistine sentiment of the Maccahean period, and (502 f.) such 
episodes as the burning of Azotus and Gaza by Jonathan (i Mace. 
x. 84, xi. 61). 

508 ff. Referred by Geffck. to a war waged by Eumenes of Per- 
gamuni against Macedonia with the aid of Gaulish auxiliaries in 
1 68 B.C. 

513. Geffck. thus amends the unintelligible papffuv 1j& &yyuv 
(bdywv) of the MSS. Mardians and Drangians were both Persian 
tribes. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 71 

dwell on the earth shall the most High send a dread 
stroke of calamity. 

520-572. The misery of Hellas under Roman 
domination. 

But when once more a barbarian host comes against 520 
Hellas, it shall destroy many chosen men; and many 
fat flocks shall they ravage, herds of horses, mules and 
lowing oxen; strongly- built houses will they burn with fire 
without scruple, and many will they carry away as slaves 525 
to a strange land, children and deep-girdled women, 
tender ones taken from their chambers, who before 
walked (or, could scarce stand) on delicate feet ; they 
shall see them bound and suffering utmost shame at the 
hands of barbarous foes, nor shall there be any to aid 530 
them in the stress of war, and to rescue them alive. 
They shall see the enemy making a spoil of their goods 
and all their wealth : their knees shall tremble. A 
hundred shall flee, and one shall slay the hundred ; five 
shall stir up heavy wrath ; and they that join against 535 
them in shameful war and dread din of battle shall bring 
joy to the foe but sorrow to Hellas. 

The yoke of slavery shall be on the neck of all 
Hellas ; and on all men together war and pestilence 
shall be laid : and God shall make the whole heaven as 
brass above, and send drought upon the whole earth, 54 
and it shall be as iron. Then will men all lament sore 
for the failure of seed-time and ploughing ; and He who 

520 ff. Whether all this refers to the Achaean war, and the sack 
of Corinth in 146 B.C., or to the horrors of Sulla's campaigns in 
Greece, it is impossible to determine. 

527. on delicate feel : cf. Deut. xxviii. 56- 

533. Cf. Isaiah xxx. 17, Deut. xxxii. 30. 

539. Cf. Deut. xxviii. 23, 24; IV. (II.) Esdr. vi. 22, also 647 
infr., V. 276. 



72 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

made heaven and earth shall kindle grievous fire upon 
earth,f and but the third part of all mankind shall be 
left. 

545 O Hellas, why trustest thou for leadership in mortal 
men, who cannot escape the end of death ? Why dost 
thou offer vain gifts to the dead, and do sacrifice to 
idols? Who put this error in thy heart, to do these 
things and to forsake the face of the great God? 

550 Revere the name of the Father of all, and forget it not. 
A thousand years and five hundred more have passed 
since proud kings began to reign over Hellas, who led 
men in the first steps of evil, setting up many idols of 

555 dead gods, whereby ye were led to think vain thoughts. 
But when the wrath of the great God falls upon you, 
then shall ye know the face of the great God, and all 
souls of men, deeply wailing, holding up their hands 

560 to the broad heaven, shall begin to call upon the great 
King as their helper, and to seek who shall save them 
from the great wrath. 

Come, learn this and have it in mind, all the woes 
that shall come as year follows year . . . fand when 

565 thou offerest herds of oxen and lowing bulls at the 
temple of the great God, making a whole burnt-offering, 

544. Cf. Zech. xiii. 8. 

551. In 822 ff. the Sibyl is contemporary with the flood; the 
writer of this passage dates himself as living 1500 years after the 
invention of idolatry in Hellas by its kings. If this means 1500 
years after Cecrops, this brings him down to about loo B.C. 

557. the wrath : Isaiah xiii. 9. 

558. Cf. Rev. i. 7 f. 

564 ff. This passage, taken together with 6i6ff., 624 ff., 716 ff., 
represents a hope for the conversion of the heathen which has not 
many parallels in apocalyptic literature. It goes beyond the con- 
ception of the nations, as vassals, bringing tribute to the temple 
(Isaiah, lx., Zech. xiv. 16, Ps. Sol. xvii. 31). But cf. Tobit xiii. II, 
xiv. 6, Enoch 90. 33 ff., 48. 4, 5, Apoc. Abr. 29: and contrast 
Sib. V. 364. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 73 

then thou shalt escape from the noise of war, from fear 
and pestilence, and be free once more from the yoke 
of slavery. But the race of godless men shall continue, 
until the time when this destined day is accomplished. 
For ye will not sacrifice to God till all come to pass, 570 
all that God shall determine, which shall not fail of 
fulfilment : strong necessity shall be upon you. 

Thereafter shall there be a holy race of god-fearing 
men, paying heed to the counsel and mind of the most 
High, who will pay honour to the temple of the great 575 
God, with the fat and savour of holy hecatombs, with 
sacrifices of fat bulls and rams without blemish, the 
first-born of sheep and fat flocks of lambs making holy 
oblations upon the great altar. And having their portion 580 
in the righteousness of the law of the most High they 
shall inhabit in well-being their houses and fruitful fields, 
with prophets raised up for them by the most High, 
bringing great joy to all people. For to them alone the 
high God gave wise counsel and faith and an excellent 585 
wisdom of heart : who use not vain deceit, nor give 
honour to the works of men that fashion images of 
gold, brass, silver, ivory, wood and stone, things of clay 
smeared with vermilion, painted in the fashion of a 
likeness such as mortals make in the vanity of their eg O 
mind ; but they lift up to heaven holy hands, rising early 
from their beds to hallow their hands with water, and 
they honour the immortal eternal Ruler alone, and after 

591. Lifting up holy hands : cf. Ps. cxxxiv. 3, i Tim. ii. 8, and 
Bernard's note in Camb. Gk. Test., which gives the parallel from 
Philo de Hum., 2, rctr KaSaphs x e 'P as 6I * ovpavkv avaretvas. 

592. For the insistence on ceremonial washing, which is Pharisaic 
in character rather than Essene, cf. IV. 165, where, however, the 
reference is to the baptism of proselytes. With this line one may 
compare Tertullian's bitter saying (De Bapt. xv. cf. De Oraf. \\.\ 
Israel ludseus quotidie lavat quia quotidie inquinatur. 



74 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

Him their father and mother ; moreover above all men 

595 they are mindful to keep the bed undefiled ; they have 
no unholy intercourse with boys, as do the Phoenicians, 
Egyptians, the Latins and wide Hellas and many nations 
besides, the Persians, Galatians and them of all Asia, 

600 transgressing the holy 'law of the immortal God, which 
He gave.f Wherefore the Immortal shall appoint for all 
men sorrow and famine and lamentations and woe, war and 
pestilence and misery with weeping, for that they would 

605 not honour in sanctity the immortal Father of all men, 
but gave honour and worship to idols the work of men's 
hands, which men themselves shall cast away, hiding 
them for shame in the clefts of the rocks, in the day 
when a young king rules in Egypt, counted seventh in 

610 succession from the rule of the Greeks, which the Mace- 
donians that mighty people shall bear ; and there shall 
come from Asia a great king, a bright eagle, who shall 
overshadow all the land with footmen and horse, and 
break up all in ruin and fill it with evils, and shall cast 

615 down the kingdom of Egypt; and taking away all its 
goods shall ride upon the broad waves of the sea. 
Then shall they bend the naked knee to God the great 
king immortal on the fruitful earth, and all the works 
of men's hands shall fall in the flame of fire. And then 

601. For the connection of unnatural vice, idolatry, and sub- 
sequent punishment, cf. Rom. ii 24 ff. 

606. Cf. Isaiah ii. 18 (LXX). 

608. The seventh king (from Ptolemy son of Lagus) is Ptolemy 
Philometor, 181-146 B C. 

611. The "great king" is Antiochus Epiphanes, who invaded 
Egypt and deposed Ptolemy Philometor in 170 B.C. 

6l6 f. Cf. 564 above. 

619 ff. Cf. 368 ff., 659 flf., 744 ff., IV. 45-6, 187, Enoch 10. 18 ff., 
Apoc. Bar. 29. 5-7, Philo de Praem. et Pcen. 16. 20 ; for sources 
in O.T., e.g. Deut. vii. 13, Isaiah xi. 6 ff., Ixv. 21 ff., Joel ii. 22, 
and for Rabbinical references, Bousset, R. /. 227 note. The 
Messianic period is here conceived as an age of peace and plenty on 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 75 

shall God give great joy to men ; for the earth, the trees, 620 
and the full flocks of sheep shall give their proper fruit 
for men, wine and honey and white milk, and corn 
which is the best of all gifts to mortals. 

But thou, O man of many counsels, make no slow 625 
delay, but turn again and make propitiation to God ; 
sacrifice to Him hundreds of bulls and lambs first-born, 
and of goats, as the seasons go round ; propitiate Him, 
the immortal God, if haply He may have mercy : for He 
is God alone, and there is no other. Honour righteous- 630 
ness and deal oppressively with no man ; for this the 
ever-living commands to wretched mortals. But be thou 
ware of the wrath of the great God, when the end, even 
pestilence, comes to all mankind, and they are brought 
low under the terror of judgement ; and one king shall 635 
take another and take away his land, and nation shall 
lay nation waste, and tyrants the people, and the cap- 
tains shall all flee into another land, and the world of 
men shall be changed, and a foreign rule shall lay waste 
all Hellas and drain the fruitful land of wealth, and they 640 
shall come to strife one with another for gold and silver 
love of gain shall be the evil shepherd of the cities 
in a strange land ; and all shall be unburied, and the 
flesh of some shall vultures rend, and wild beasts of the 
field ; when this is come to pass, the terrible earth shall 645 
swallow the remnants of the dead ; it shall all be un- 
ploughed, and unsown, proclaiming in its misery the 

the earth as it is: so in Eth. Enoch I. 36. Similar versions of 
temporal felicity recur in such Chiliastic pictures as that of Papias 
(ap. Iren. V. 33), as also in Verg. Eel. IV. 28-30. 

629. Cf. Deut. iv. 35, Isaiah xlv. 5. 

636. Cf. Apoc. Bar. 70. 3, IV. (II.) Esdr. vi. 24, etc. 
Mk. xiii. 8. 

643-5. Cf. Ezek. xxxix. 4. 

647. unsown : cf. on 539 supr. 



76 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

pollution with which thousands are denied ... for 

650 many seasons of revolving years bringing forth spears 
and shields, javelins and all manner of weapon : nor 
shall wood for bright fire be cut from the thicket. 

And then shall God send from the sun a king, who 
shall make all the earth cease from ruinous war, killing 

655 some, and with some making a sure agreement. Nor 
shall he do all this by his own counsel, but in obedience 
to the ordinances of the high God . . . and the temple 
of the high God shall be loaded with rich adornment, 
with gold and silver and furniture of purple; and the 

660 fruitful earth and sea shall abound in good things. And 
kings shall begin to have wrath one against another, 
harbouring revengeful thoughts. No good thing is envy 
to hapless mortals. But again shall kings of the Gentiles 
make onset together against this land, bringing doom 

665 upon themselves ; for they shall seek to lay waste the 
temple of the great God, and upright men, when they reach 
this land. Accursed kings will set each his throne around 
the city, and with each will be his infidel people. Then 

' 649. There is a gap before this line, which refers to the duration 
of the Messianic age ; it appears to be temporal here and 728, 
755-6, but not clearly so in 785 ff. : in 767 it is to last "forages." 

649-51. a paraphrase of Ezek. xxxix. gf. ; cf. V. 728 ff. 

652 ff. The Warrior-Messiah who makes an end of war : cf. Apoc. 
Bar. 3640, 5374. For Pagan parallels, and especially the Priene 
inscription (Augustus as saviour and peace-maker), Bousset, Jf. J. 

212. 

655. Cf. John v. 19. 

657. vaos is a certain emendation for the MSS. Xao'i. The 
renewal of the glory of the temple is a constant element in the 
pictures of the Messianic age, e.g. I Enoch 90. 28, Jub. I. 17, 
Tobit xiii. 16, xiv. 5. The O.T. basis of this hope is in Ezek. xl. 
xliv., Isaiah liv. n ft., Hagg. ii. 7-9, Zech. ii. 5-9, etc. It assumed 
new forms after 70 A.D. ; cf. Sib. V., 250 ff., 420 ff. 

660. Cf. IV. (II.) Esdr. xiii. 31. 

638-8. For the gathering of the kings against the Messiah, cf. 
Jer. i. 15, Ps. ii., Zech. xiv. 2, Enoch 90. 16-19, IV. (II.), Esdr. 
xiii. 34, Rev. xvii. 12. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 77 

will God speak to each people of vain and uninstructed 670 
mind, and their judgement shall come from the high 
God, and they shall all perish at the hand of the ever- 
living. Fiery swords shall fall from heaven on the earth : 
great flashing torches, flaming through the midst of 
them ; and the earth, mother of all things, shall be 675 
shaken in those days by the hand of the Immortal, and 
the fishes of the sea and all the beasts of the earth and 
the myriad tribes of birds, and every soul of man and 
every sea shall shudder before the face of the Immortal, 
and there shall be great fear. He shall break asunder 680 
the craggy peaks of the mountains and the great hills, 
and a dark cloud shall overshadow all; and the high 
gullies in the lofty mountains shall be full of dead : and 
the rocks shall run with blood, and every torrent shall 
fill the plain with it. And all the strong-built walls of 685 
the enemy shall fall down, because they knew not the 
judgement of the great God, but ye did all rush to take 
up spears in your folly against the holy place. And 
God shall give judgement upon all, by war, by the sword, 
by fire and drenching rain ; and brimstone shall fall 690 
from heaven, with stones of hail great and grievous : and 
death shall overtake the four-footed beasts. And then 
shall they know the ever-living God who judges thus ; 
and through the width of the earth shall sound the 
wailing and mourning of perishing men ; and all the 695 
unholy shall be bathed in blood : the very earth shall 
drink the blood of the slain, and the beasts shall be 
glutted with their flesh. All these things did the great 
and eternal God bid me foretell ; and this shall not lack 

675 ff. based on Ezek. xxxviii. 20 ff. 
682-4. Cf. Judith ii. 8. 
689. Cf. Rev. ix. 17, etc. 

692. hail: cf. Rer. xvi. 21. 

693. then shall they know : cf. Ezek. xxxviii. 23. 



78 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

700 fulfilment and consummation : enough that His mind 
has counselled it ; for the Spirit of God is in the world 
a spirit of truth. 

But all the sons of the high God shall dwell peaceably 
round the temple, rejoicing in that which the creator, the 

75 righteous sovereign judge, shall give them. For He shall 
stand by them as a shelter in His greatness, as though 
He walled them in with a wall of flaming fire ; they shall 
be at peace in their cities and lands. No hand of evil 
war shall stir against them, but the Immortal shall be 

710 their champion, and the hand of the holy one. Then all 
the isles and cities shall say how greatly the immortal 
God loves those men, for all things fight for them and 
aid them, the heaven, the sun God's chariot, and the 

7 r 5 noon. They shall sing with their mouths this hymn of 
sweetness : " O come, let us all bow to the ground to 
supplicate the King immortal, the great and eternal 
God ; let us send gifts to His sanctuary, for He is Lord 
alone : and let us all pay heed to the law of God most 

720 high, who is the most righteous of all on the earth. But 
we had gone astray from the path of the Immortal, 
honouring in our foolishness the work of men's hands, 
even idols and graven images of men that perish." Thus 

725 the souls of the faithful shall cry aloud. [" Come, let us 
fall on our face in the house of God, and rejoice in our 
houses to hymn our God and Father ; and let us take to 
ourselves the arms of our enemies throughout the earth, 
for seven times of revolving years, shields and bucklers, 

730 helmets and all manner of gear, and much plenty of bows 
and spears and javelins ; for wood shall not be cut from 
the thicket for burning in the fire."] 

706. a -wall offirt : cf. Zech. ii. 5. 

7i6ff. Reminiscences of Ps. xcv. 

721 f. Cf. Ps. Sophocles in Bus. Pr<zp. Ev. XIII. xiii. p. 680. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 79 

But thou, poor Hellas, cease from proud thoughts ; 
entreat the Immortal, the great-hearted, and beware. 
Send notf to this city thy foolish people, nor whoso is 735 
not of the holy land of the great God. Move not 
Camarina, for unmoved it is better : nor the leopard 
from its lair, lest evil befall thee. Refrain thyself, and 
keep not a haughty spirit of pride in thy heart, nor 
embark on a hard struggle. Serve the high God, that 740 
thou mayest have a portion in these things. 

But when this destined day is fully come [and the 
judgement of immortal God comes upon men], a great 
rule (or beginning) and judgement shall come upon men. 
For the fertile earth shall yield her best fruit of corn and 745 
wine and oil [and sweet honey from heaven for drink, 
trees bearing fruit after their kind, flocks of sheep, oxen, 
lambs and kids of the goats] ; it shall gush out in sweet 
fountains of white milk : the cities shall be full of good 750 
things, and the fields with fatness ; no sword shall come 
against the land, nor shout of war ; nor shall the earth 
again be shaken, deeply groaning : no war nor drought 
shall afflict the land, no dearth nor hail to spoil the 
crops, but deep peace over all the earth ; king shall live 755 
as friend to king to the bound of the age, and the 
Immortal shall establish in the starry heaven one law 
for men over all the face of the earth for all the doings 
of hapless mortals. For He alone is God, and there is 760 
no other ; He too will burn up with fire the might (race) 
of stubborn men. 

732-40. This warning to Hellas, not to invade the holy city, may 
date from the early part of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. It 
looks as if it had been worked into the context by the addition of 
733 (entreat the Immortal . . . ) and 740 (serve the high God, 
etc). 

736-7. Note how an ancient Greek proverb is balanced with a 
parallel clause, in the manner of Hebrew poetry. 

744 ff. see on 620 ff. above. 



8o THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

But do ye stir up your mind in your breasts, and shun 

unlawful worship ; serve the living God : keep from 

adultery, and lust which confounds the use of nature : 

765 bring up thy own children and slay them not; for the 

Immortal will be wroth with him that sins in these things. 

And then shall He raise up His kingdom for ever over 
all men, He who once gave the holy law to the godly, to 

770 whom He promised to open the earth and the world and 
the gates of the blessed with all joys, with a deathless 
mind and everlasting joy. And from all the earth men 
shall bring frankincense and offerings to the temple of 
the high God : and there shall be no other temple 
among men, to be told of among those that are yet 

775 unborn, save that which God gave to the faithful to 
honour; [for men call him the son (or, call it the 
sanctuary) of the high God]. All the paths of the plain, 
and the rough place of the hills, and the lofty mountains, 
and the wild waves of the sea shall be made easy for 

780 traveller and sailor in those days ; for perfect peace and 
plenty cometh on the earth : and the prophets of the 
high God shall take away the sword, for they are the 
judges of men and their righteous kings ; and well- 
gotten wealth shall abound among men : for this is the 
judgement of the great God, and His rule. 

785 Rejoice, O daughter, and be glad : for He that made 
heaven and earth hath given thee joy ; and He shall 

771. everlasting joy : cf. Isaiah xxxv. 10. 

772. Cf. Isaiah Ix. 6. 

776. The MSS. have the line vlbv ykp /caAeoutn fiporol fitydhoio 
Oeolo. Emendations such as va&v, olKov, have been proposed ; but 
the line may be a Christian gloss, suggested by John ii. 21. 

777 ff. Cf. Isaiah xl. 4. 

785. Cf. Zech. ix. 9, Isaiah xxxv. i. 

786. Isaiah xxxv. 10. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 81 

dwell in thee, and thou shalt have everlasting light. The 
wolf and the lamb shall feed together on the mountains, 
the leopard shall eat grass with the kid : the bear shall 790 
lie down with the fherds of calves, f and the devouring 
lion shall eat chaff at the stall as the ox, and little chil- 
dren shall lead them with a halter, for He shall make the 
wild beast harmless (lit. helpless) upon earth. And the 
babe shall lie down with the dragon and the asp, and 795 
shall suffer no hurt : for the hand of God shall be on 
them. 

I will tell thee an unerring sign, whereby to know 
when the end of all things shall come on earth. When 
by night in the starry heaven swords are seen westward 
and eastward, then shall a dust fall from heaven over all 800 
jthe earth and the light of the sun shall fail from heaven 
in his mid course, and suddenly the moon-rays shall 
shine out and come upon the earth ; there shall be a 
sign of dripping of blood from the rocks ; and in a cloud 805 
ye shall see a warring of footmen and horse, like a hunt- 
ing of beasts, in the likeness of a mist ; this is the end 
of war (or, of all things) which God who dwells in heaven 

787. everlasting light : cf. IV. 191. 

787 ff. Cf. Isaiah xi. 6-9, Apoc. Bar. 73. 6. 

793. harmless : iri]p6v, lit. maimed or defective ; on the word see 
Armitage Robinson, Ephesians^ 271 f. 

798, 805. Cf. 673 above, 2 Mace. v. 2, Jos., B.J. VI. 288. 

800. Cf. Deut. xxviii. 24. 

Soi. Cf. Joel. ii. 10. 

802-4. Cf. IV. (II.) Esdr. v. 4 f. 

805 (7989). These portents are given by Josephus as occurring 
during the siege of Jerusalem (B.J. VI. 288, 298, Niese), cf. Tac. 
Hist. V. 1 3, Luke xx. 1 1 ; in 2 Mace. v. 2 f. they appear in con- 
nection with Antiochus Epiphanes' second inroad into Egypt ; while 
Dio, LXVI. 1 1 , in his account of the great eruption of Vesuvius, says, 
" magnus numerus hominum naturam excedentium, quales gigantes 
finguntur, modo in monte, modo in regione circumiacente . . . 
uagari uersarique in acre uisus est." 
F 



82 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

is bringing to pass ; but all must do sacrifice to the great 
King. 

These things do I shew forth, who came from the long 

810 walls of Assyrian Babylon, sent in frenzy as a fire into 
Hellas, foretelling to all mortals the manifold wrath of 
God ... so that I utter as prophecy the riddles of God. 
And in Hellas men shall name me from a country which 
is not mine, as the shameless one of Erythrse ; others 
shall say that I am the Sibyl begotten of Circe and 

815 Gnostos, distraught and deceiving ; but when all things 
come to pass, then shall ye remember me, and none 
shall call me distraught, who am a prophetess of the 
high God. For He did not reveal to me that which He 

820 shewed before to my forbears ; but that which was in 
the beginning did God (or, my father) tell me, and all 
that was to be thereafter did God put in my mind ; that 
so I should foretell things that were to be before they 
came to pass, and declare them to men. For when the 
world was covered with a flood, and one man of proved 

825 integrity was left alone, voyaging on the waters in an ark 
of wood, with birds and beasts, that the earth might 
again be replenished : his (son's) wife was I, and of his 

809-29. In this concluding section the Sibyl gives an account of 
herself, or rather four accounts blended into one. She is (a) the 
Babylonian Sibyl (809-11): but (6) she will be called the Ery- 
thraean, and (c) falsely called Circe's daughter (814-5) ; whereas 
(d) she is a true prophetess and the daughter-in-law of Noah. 

From Pausanias X. 12, 9, Ps. Justin Coh. ad Gr, 37, Suidas s.v. 
2,iBu\\a, it appears that the Babylonian or Chaldsean Sibyl was 
" the daughter of Berosus and Erymanthe, by name Sabbe (or 
Sambethe)": but the compiler of Sib. III. could not claim to be 
both the daughter of Berosus and the daughter-in-law of Noah. 
Hence it may be supposed that Sib. III., while taking over 809-11 
from the Babylonian source, has omitted some such line as BtjpuxTirov 
2a/3^r; Bvyarrjp fHjrpJii 5'Ep v/j.dv9i)s. 

815. Gnostos: Bleek conjectured Glaucus ; in sn. VI. 36, the 
priestess who escorts ^Eneas to the Sibyl is Deiphobe Glauci. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 83 

blood, to whom the first things befell : and the last 

things were all revealed ; therefore let all these the 
words of my mouth be counted for truth. 



BOOK IV 

123. Prelude. 

HEAR, ye people of proud Asia and Europe, all the 
true prophecies which I shall utter with honeyed mouth 
from our shrine ; no oracular voice am I of false Phoebus, 
whom vain men called a god, and falsely reckoned as a 5 
seer, but of the great God, not fashioned by hands of 
men in the likeness of dumb idols graven in stone. He 
hath not for His habitation a stone dragged into a 
temple, deaf and dumb, a bane and a woe to mortals ; 
but one which may not be seen from earth nor measured 10 
by mortal eyes, nor was fashioned by mortal hand : 
He who beholdeth all things together, and Himself is 
seen of none : in whose hand are dark night and day, 
the sun and the moon and the sea where go the fish, the je 
earth and the rivers and unfailing streams, things created 
for life, rain giving birth to the fruit of the field, and to 
trees, the vine and the olive. It is He who has smitten 
through my mind with a scourge, that I should declare 
unerringly to men all that now is and shall be hereafter 

4-5. The Jewish Sibyl attacks her pagan rival, who claims to be 
inspired by Apollo ; cf. Paus. X. 12. 6, aS' tyd, a *cu/6oio ffatyrftopis 
flfu 2i'/3uAA.a, and the Erythraean inscription (Buresch, in Mitthei- 
lungen des K. D. arch. Instituts, Ath.Abt., XVII. 1902) : y *oiou 



10 ff. see on III. n. 

16. created for life : cf. Ecclus. xxxix. 25 ff., Zeller, Phil, der Gr, 
III. I. 272. 



84 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

20 from the first generation to the tenth ; for He shall try 
every word as He brings it to pass. But thou, O people, 
give ear in all things to the Sibyl, as she pours forth the 
stream of truth from holy lips. 

24-48. Righteousness of Judaism : doom of its pagan 
despisers. 

2 $ Happy among men shall they be upon earth who love 
to bless the great God before taking food and drink, 
trusting in the ways of godliness : who shall turn away 
their eyes from every temple and all altars, vain structures 
of stones that cannot hear, denied with the blood of 

30 living things and sacrifices of four-footed beasts ; and 
will have an eye to the glory of the one God, doing no 
presumptuous deeds of blood nor trafficking for thievish 
gain abominable are such works having no base 
desires for strange women [nor for defilement with men, 

35 loathly and hateful], whose ways and manners and piety 
other men will not follow, so shameless is their desire, 
but they will mock at them with scorn and laughter, and 



20. yfvff) means here, as in 47, etc., an age or period. The 
Sibylline tradition followed a parallel line to the Hesiodic division 
of the ages according to metals : but while Hesiod reckoned five 
(cf. the four ages of Daniel), the Sibylline tradition reckoned ten ; 
so in an Erythraean oracle preserved by Phlegon (see Alex. II. 120) ; 
cf. Juv., Sat. xiii. 28, nona setas agitur, peioraque tempora ferri 
temporibus, Verg., Eel. iv. 46". 

This tradition is closely connected with the "great year" of 
the Stoics, i.e. that which is completed by the return of all the stars 
to their original positions, and is the period destined to end with the 
iKifbposffii or world-conflagration : after this all history repeats itself: 
4 ' altera erit turn Tiphys " (Verg. Eel. iv.). The Jewish and Christian 
Sibyllists, while rejecting the conception of " the great return," 
retained that of the ten ages: cf. Sib. II. 15, IV. 2O, 86, VII. 97, 
VIII. 199. 

25. to bless . . . before taking food : the Jewish precept of 
grace before food and drink was based upon Deut. viii. 10. References 
in Schiirer, II. ii. 117 f. 

37. scorn : refers to the ridicule poured upon Jewish observances 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 85 

in their witlessness will miscall them fools so evil and 
presumptuous are their own works. Faithless is the 4 
whole race of men. But when the judgement of the 
world and of mortals shall come which God shall make, 
judging the godly and ungodly alike, then shall He send 
the godless away into darkness [and then shall they 
know what impiety they have done], but the godly 45 
shall continue upon the grain-giving earth, and God will 
give them breath and life and grace. But this shall all 
come to pass in the tenth generation ; now will I speak 
of that which shall be from the first generation. 

49-114. World-kingdoms from Assyria to Hellas (70), 
Macedonia (88), and Rome (102), with some miscel- 
laneous oracles. 

First the Assyrians shall rule over all mankind, holding 
sway and rule over the world for six generations, from 50 
the day when in the wrath of the God of heaven He 
caused a flood to break forth, and overwhelmed the 
earth with its cities and all that dwelt therein. 

Them the Medes shall subdue, and hold the throne 
in pride ; two generations only are theirs, in which these 55 
happenings shall be : there shall be dark night at the 
midnoon of day ; the stars shall fall from heaven, and the 
orb of the moon, and the earth shall be shaken with the 
noise of a great earthquake, and lay low many cities and 
works of men, and islands shall rise out of the depths of 60 
the sea. 

by Alexandrine and other writers from Manetho onwards ; cf. Schtirer, 
II. ii. 291 ff., iii. 2496. 

43. darkness . . . fire: cf. i Enoch 91. 15, 103.8, and, for other 
references, Bousset, R.J. 266. f. 

45-6. The life of the righteous is to be a long-continued earthly 
existence; cf. 187 infr., and III. 619, note. 



86 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

But when great Euphrates runs high with blood, then 
shall the dread cry of war be raised between Mede and 
Persian ; the Persians shall fall beneath the spear of the 
65 Medes and fly beyond the great water of Tigris. And 
the Persian power shall be the greatest in all the world, 
yet for them is appointed but one generation of wealth 
and rule. 

Then shall deeds be done such as men would pray 

God to avert, warfare and murder, dissensions, flight, 

70 burning of towers and overturning of cities, when proud 

Hellas shall sail against the broad Hellespont, bringing 

grievous doom to Phrygia and to Asia. 

But upon Egypt and her broad plough-lands of wheat 
shall come dearth and lean harvests for the course of 
75 twenty years, when the Nile that nurtures the blade shall 
hide elsewhere beneath the earth his dark water. 

From Asia a king shall come, lifting up a mighty sword, 
in countless ships, walking on the wet ways of the sea, 
and cutting through a high-peaked mountain in his 
voyaging ; him trembling Asia shall receive back, as he 
flees for refuge from the war. 

80 Sicily, unhappy isle, a great river of fire shall burn up, 
as Etna vomits out its flame ; and Croton, that great 
city, shall fall into a deep abyss. 

Hellas shall have strife; raging against each other 
they shall lay low many cities, and many lives shall they 
85 destroy in their righting ; but the strife shall be of 
doubtful issue to either side. 

But when the race of men reaches the tenth genera- 
tion, the yoke of slavery, with fear, shall fall upon the 
Persians. 



76. a king : i. e. Xerxes ; for his canal through the peninsula ot 
Mount Athos see licit., VII. 22-24. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 87 

But when the Macedonians hold the proud sceptre, 
thereafter shall Thebes suffer misery and capture. 
Carians shall inhabit Tyre, and the Tyrians shall perish. 90 
Samos, banks of sand shall cover it all, and Delos 
shall no more answer its name, but be wholly deleted. 
Babylon, great to behold but small in fight, shall stand 
fortified with hopes that profit nothing. Bactra the 
Macedonians shall inhabit, and they who are subject to 95 
Bactra and Susa shall all flee into the land of Hellas. 

The day shall yet come, when Pyramus with his silver 
stream shall throw up a bar of sand as far as the holy 
island. fAnd thou, Baris, shalt fall, and Cyzicus, when 
the earth is violently shaken, and cities collapse. Upon 100 
the Rhodians shall come the last, but the greatest 
evil. 

Neither shall Macedonia keep her power ; but from 
the west a great war shall grow up against her from Italy, 
whereby the whole world shall be made subject, enslaved 
under the yoke of the sons of Italy. 

And thou, poor Corinth, shalt see the day of thy 105 
capture. Carthage, thy towers too shall bow the knee 
to the ground. 

88-9. Alexander the Great captured Thebes, in Bceotia, massacred 
its inhabitants, and destroyed the city, in 335 B.C. 

91. Delos . . . Samos : cf. III. 363. 

97-8. This is an ancient oracle, quoted (but not assigned to any 
source) by the geographer Strabo (I. iii. 7, ed. Mtiller, 52). 

99 f. Baris: the MSS. have oJ 'ZuRapis ; ai <ru, Bapts is Badt's 
emendation. The Asiatic Baris was near Cyzicus. Pausanias (II. vii. 
l) appears to refer to this passage: "the same earthquake (which 
ruined Sicyon) injured also the cities of Lycia and Caria, and the 
shock was felt especially in the island of Rhodes, so that the 
Sibylline oracle touching Rhodes appeared to be fulfilled." The 
earthquake cannot be dated. Pausanias does not say (as Gefifck. 
suggests) that it happened in the time of Demetrius, 302 B.C. : 
conjectures range from A.D. 23 to 141. See Frazer's note ad loc. 

105. Fall of Corinth, 146 B.C. 

106. Carthage destroyed by Scipio, 146 B.C. 



88 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

Hapless Laodicea, thee shall an earthquake lay low in 
ruin, but them shall stand again as a city with foundations. 
Fair Myra of Lycia, never shall the earth, when once it 
no is shaken, give thee firm standing; thou shalt fall head- 
long to the ground, and pray to find another land of 
refuge, as a sojourner, when in thunderings and earth- 
quake the dark water of the sea spreads sand f over 
Patara, for their godlessness. 

Thee too, Armenia, oppression and slavery awaits. 

115-139. Rome and the Jews ; Nero, Titus, eruption 
of Vesuvius, Nero's return. 

115 To the men of Jerusalem also shall come an evil 
storm-blast of war from Italy, and shall lay waste the 
great temple of God, when putting their trust in folly 
they shall cast away godliness and do hateful deeds of 
blood before the temple ; and then shall a great king 

120 from Italy flee away like a deserter, unseen, unheard of, 
beyond the ford of Euphrates, after he has polluted his 
hands with the hateful murder of his mother, doing f the 

107. cf. III. 471. This corresponds closely with Tacitus' account 
of the earthquake at Laodicea in A.D. 60: Tac. Ann. XIV. 27, 
Laodicea tremore terrse prolapsa . . . propriis opibus revaluit. 

115. the men of Jerusalem : the word used is " the Solymi," which 
was the name of a Lycian tribe and mountain (Horn. //. vi. 184, Od. 
V. 282) ; a natural but inaccurate etymology of the word Hierosolytna 
suggested the use of the adjective " Solymi " for the Jews : and this 
is found both in Greek and in Latin, cf. Juv. Sat. vi. 544, " interpres 
legum Solymarum." 

1 1 8. hateful deeds : the excesses of the Zealots during the siege 
of Jerusalem : Jos. B.J. IV. iii. I, etc. 

119. The legend of Nero's disappearance and return. The 
significance attached to the return (137 ff.) is not very clear ; cf. V. 
I37-I54- In V. 361-385 Nero is the arch-tyrant, and in V. 33-4, 
214-227, he is depicted in plain colours as the Antichrist. 

121. murder : Nero murdered his mother Agrippina in 59 A.D., 
Tac. Ann, XIV. 3-8, Suet. Nero, 34. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 89 

deed with wicked hand. And many round his throne 
shall drench the soil of Rome with their blood, when he 
has fled beyond the land of Parthia. 

To Syria shall come a Roman chieftain, who shall 125 
burn with fire the temple of Jerusalem, slay many of the 
Jews, and lay in ruin that great land of broad fields. 

Then shall an earthquake destroy both Salamis and 
Paphos, when the dark water shall break over Cyprus, 
the sea-girt isle. 

But when from a cleft in the earth, in the land of Italy, 130 
a flame of fire shoots out its light to the broad heaven, 
to burn up many cities and slay their men, and a great 
cloud of fiery ashes shall fill the air, and sparks fiery red 
shall fall from heaven, then should men know the wrath 135 
of the God of heaven, because they destroyed the blame- 
less people of the godly. Then shall come to the west 
the strife of war stirred up, and the exiled man of 
Rome, lifting up a mighty sword, crossing the Euphrates 
with many tens of thousands. 

140151. Hellenic oracles. 

Hapless Antioch, they shall no more call thee a city, 140 
when through thy foolishness thou fallest beneath the 
spear; pestilence shall then lay waste Syria, and the 
dread cry of battle. 

123. Conflicts of Galba, Otho and Vitellius. 

125. a Roman chieftain: i. e. Vespasian. 

I28f. an earthquake : cf. 143-4 infr. Eus., Chron. ed. Schone, II. 
188, assigns an earthquake in Cyprus, which destroyed three cities, 
to the year of Abraham 2092, i. e. A.D. 76. 

130 ff. The eruption of Vesuvius and destruction of Pompeii and 
Herculaneum in A.D. 79; Dio, LXVI. 21-23, PI" 1 - Ep- VI. 16. 
20. 

140. According to Johannes Malalas, XVIII. 177, this oracle was 
" found" and quoted in Antioch in the time of Justinian, when the 
pame of the city was changed to Theopolis. 



90 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

Ah, wretched Cyprus, thee the spreading wave of the 

sea shall overwhelm, and the fierce storms of winter shall 

drive over thee. 
145 Great wealth shall come to Asia, which Rome herself 

had made spoil of, and had stored in her rich houses ; 

twice as much shall she then repay to Asia, and war 

shall restore it with interest. 
150 The citadels of the Carians by the waters of Maeander, 

all the fair citadels they had fortified, bitter famine shall 

waste them, when the dark water of Maeander overwhelms 

them. 

152 end. Judgement^ destruction and restoration. 

But when the faith of godliness has perished from 
among men, and righteousness is no more seen in the 
155 world . . . and living in unholy deeds they deal 
violently, doing evil with presumption, and none takes 
account of the godly, but in their great folly and un- 
wisdom they destroy them all, rejoicing in violence, and 
staining their hands in blood ; then shall they know that 
160 God is no longer merciful, but that gnashing His teeth in 
anger He will destroy the whole race of men at once 
with a great burning. 

Wretched mortals, repent ye of these things, and 
provoke not the great God to shew all His anger ; put 
away your swords, the slaying of men with groanings, 

145 ff. A partial paraphrase of III. 350 ff. 

149 ff. Perhaps a reference to the same disaster as that in 107 ff. 
152 f. This is the "falling away " of 2. Thess. ii. 3 ; cf. Matt. xxiv. 
12, Jude 18, 2 Tim. iii. I ff., Sib. V. 74. 

160. no longer merciful: cf. 2(4) Esdr. vii. 33, "and com- 
passion shall pass away, and pity be afar off, and long-suffering 
withdrawn" ; 2 Baruch 85, 12, I Enoch 63. 8. 

161. For this Sibyllist, history begins with the Flood and ends in 
the Fire ; cf. 2 Pet. iii. 6-7 ; and for the fire cf. III. 54, 71 ff., V. 
155-161, 206-283, 274f., 512-531. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 91 

and your deeds of violence, wash your bodies from head 165 
to foot in running streams, and lift up your hands to 
heaven, asking forgiveness for the deeds done aforetime, 
and make propitiation with gifts for your impiety ; God 
will give repentance and will not destroy : He will cease 
from His anger, if ye all practice godliness in your minds, 170 
and hold it precious. But if ye will not hearken to me 
in your folly, but love impiety and give no good hearing 
to all these things, there shall be fire over the whole earth 
and a great sign of a sword with a trumpet, at the rising of 
the sun : and all the earth shall hear loud wailing and a 175 
mighty noise. It shall burn up the whole earth and 
destroy the whole race of men, all cities and rivers, with 
the sea : and it shall consume all things, and they shall 
be dust of fire. 

But when all is turned to dust and ashes, and God 180 
who kindled it shall put to sleep the mighty fire, God 
Himself shall clothe the bones and ashes again in human 
shape, and re-make men as they were before. And then 
shall be the judgement, in which God himself shall judge 
the world again ; all that sinned in godlessness, over 185 

165. Exhortation to accept the baptism of proselytes : a baptism 
of repentance, Mark i. 4, Schurer II. ii. 319 ff. 

For baptism in running water cf. Didache VII. I, 0airriffa.Te & 

vSttTl (OVTl. 

174. a trumpet : cf. Isaiah xxvii. 13, Ps.-Sol. xi. i, ShemoneEsre 
(Palestinian version) 10, Apoc. Abr. 31, Matt. xxiv. 31, atrumpetfor 
the gathering of the elect ; I Cor. xv. 52, I Thess. iv. 16, for the 
resurrection ; Sib. VIII. 239, for the judgement. Also Rev. viii. 
2, etc. 

179 ff. The picture here is not that of a " resurrection of the just " 
(as in Test. XII. Patr., cf. Luke xiv. 14, xx. 36) ; nor, as in Rev., 
that of a general resurrection following that of the righteous : hut 
as in 2 Baruch 50. 51, 52. 85, and as in the Similitudes of Enoch, 
51. 1-3, an universal resurrection. For the restoration of mankind 
after its destruction, cf. V. 230 : and for the re-constitution of men in 
their bodies as they were, 2 Baruch 50. 2, Sib. II. 221 ff. (Ezek. 
xxxvii.). 

185. Ci. 43 supr. Darkness (Matt. viii. 12, etc.) is here the chiei 



9 2 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

them shall earth be heaped to cover them, dark spaces 
of Tartarus and Stygian recesses of Gehenna. But all 
that are godly, they shall live again on the earth, and 
190 God shall give them breath and life and grace, even to 
the godly; and all shall then look upon themselves, 
beholding the sweet light of a sun that never sets ; most 
blessed shall he be who shall live to see that time. 



BOOK V 

1-5. Roman Emperors down to Hadrian. 

Come, hearken to the woeful tale of the sons of 
Latium. Next after the kings of Egypt, who perished, 
and the same earth swallowed them all, and after the 
man of Pella, beneath whose rule the whole east and 
the opulent west were brought, whom Babylon showed 
as he was, when it gave him back a corpse to Philip, no 
son of Zeus nor Ammon, as he was falsely called, and 

element in the punishment of the wicked ; cf. Jude 13, 2(4) 
Esdr. vii. 125, I Enoch 63. 6, Gospel of Nicodemus 18, Sib. I. 1 17 ff. 
For Tartarus and similar uses of deck chthonian terms, cf. 2 Pet. 
ii. 4, Sib. I. iof., loiff., II. 302, VII. 291-2, 362. 

189. As in 45 f. supr., the home of the righteous is to be on this 
earth ; so also in the chiliastic pictures of VII. 169 ff., 205 ff. 

191. light: cf. III. 787, VIII. 410, $>s alwviov, Enoch 58. 3, 
Ps. -Sol. iii. 12 (Rev. xxi. 23). 

192. of. III. 371. 

5. the man of Pella: i.e. Alexander the Great. Pella was the 
capital of Macedonia. 

7. no son of Zeus. Alexander, it is asserted, made this claim for 
himself; see Curtius Rufus, Hist. Alex. Magn. VIII. v. 5, "louis 
filium non dici tantum se sed etiam credi uolebat " : cf. Diod. 
Sic. xvii. 51. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 93 

after the man of the race and blood of Assaracus, who 
came from Troy, and broke through the raging fire, and 10 
after many kings and warlike men, and after the babes 
whom the wolf took for her nurslings, shall come a king 
first of all, the first letter of whose name shall sum twice 
ten ; he shall prevail greatly in war : and for his first 
sign he shall have the number ten; so that after him 
shall rule one who has the first letter as his initial; 15 
before whom Thrace shall cower and Sicily, then Mem- 
phis, Memphis brought low by the fault of her leaders, 
and of a woman undaunted, who fell on the wave (by the 
spear ?). He shall give laws to the peoples and bring all 
into subjection, and after a long time shall hand on his 20 
kingship to one who shall have the number three hundred 
for his first letter, and a name well known from a river, 
whose sway shall reach to the Persians and Babylon : 
and he shall smite the Medes with the spear. Then 
shall rule one whose name-letter is the number three ; 
then one whose initial is twenty : he shall reach the 25 
furthest ebb of Ocean's tide, swiftly travelling f with his 

8. a man of the race . . . of Assaracus : /Eneas. Cf. Verg. 
^. I. 284 ; II. 339, 664. 

12. twice ten : = K, i. e. Caesar- The exegetical device so largely 
current in Rabbinical Judaism, by which the hidden meanings of 
the Bible were extracted by means of the numerical significance 
of letters and signs (gematria = yfta^erpta.), is used here, as in Rev., 
for the construction of cryptic names. Lucian noted -this as a 
familiar Sibylline trick, and parodied it (Lucian, Alexander n). 

14. ten: = I, i. e. Julius. 

15. the first letter : = A, i.e. Augustus. 

16. Thrace : at Philippi, 42 B.C. 

Sicily = in the overthrow of Sextus Pompeius, 36 B.C. 

Memphis : in the downfall of Cleopatra, 30 B.C. 
21. three hundred: = T, i.e. Tiberius, the river being Tiber. 
There is no historical ground for what is said here about the Persians 
and Babylon. 

24. three : = G, *. e. Gaius. 

25. twenty : K, /. e. Claudius. 

26-7. Refers to the occupation of Britain. 



94 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

Ausonian company. Then one with the letter fifty shall 
be king, a fell dragon breathing out grievous war, who 

30 shall lift his hand against his own people to slay them, 
and shall spread confusion, playing the athlete, charioteer, 
assassin, a man of many ill-deeds ; he shall cut through 
the mountain between two seas and stain it with blood ; 
yet he shall vanish to destruction (?) ; then he shall 
return, making himself equal to God : but God shall 
reveal his nothingness. 

35 Three kings after him shall perish at each other's 
hand; then shall come a great destroyer of the godly, 
whom the number seventy plainly shows. His son, 
revealed by the number three hundred, shall take away 
his power. After him shall rule a devouring j tyrant, 

40 marked by the letter four, and then a venerable man, 

28. fifty : = N, i. e. Nero. 

29. war : i. e. against the Jews. 

31. On Nero as athlete and charioteer, see Henderson, Nero, 
p. 126 f., 384. 

32. the mountain: i.e. the Isthmus of Corinth; cf. 138, 218. 
Nero cut the first sod of a canal through the isthmus in 67 A.D., a 
task which "already Demetrius the King, Caesar, and Caligula had 
planned " (Henderson, Nero, p. 386). Six thousand Jewish prisoners 
were sent by Vespasian to help ; but the work was abandoned when 
little more than a fifth of it had been completed. The attitude of 
contemporaries to the plan is represented in 218: the fates, it is 
hinted, looked unfavourably on the scheme, and Apollonius of 
Tyana (Philostratus, Vit. Apoll. iv. 24, v. 7, Nero init.) prophesied 
that Nero should never sail through the isthmus. 

32. stain with blood. According to Dio, LXIII. 16, blood gushed 
out of the earth as soon as the work was begun. 

34. making himself equal with God: cf. Rev. xii. 4, 6, perhaps 
Mark xiii. 14, Didache 16, /cal r6rf tparfifferai & KOff/j.oirXd.vos ais 
uioy 0eoG ; Hippolytus de Christo et Antichristo 53: "and when 
the three horns are cut off, he will begin to show himself as God, 
as Ezekiel has said of old" (Ezek. xxviii. 2). 

35. three kings: i. e. Galba, Otho and Vitellius. 

37. seventy: = O, i.e. Vespasian (Ovfffiraaiav^s). Cf. IV. 125 
ff. ; XII. 99 ff. 

38. three hundred: = T, i. e. Titus. The story that he poisoned 
his father is mentioned in Dio Ixvi. 17. 

40. four: D, i.e. Domitian. The MSS. TtQBos n6pos is cor- 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 95 

by number fifty : but after him one to whom falls the 
initial sign three hundred, a Celt, ranging the mountains, 
but hastening to the clash of conflict he shall not escape 
an unseemly doom, but shall fall ; the dust of a strange 45 
land shall cover him in death, a land named from the 
Nemean flower. Following him a silver-haired king 
shall reign : his name is that of a sea ; he shall be a 
man of excellence and all discernment. Under thy sway, 
most excellent in goodness, dark-haired | lord, and under 50 
that of thy branches shall this empire be, all thy days. 
After him shall three kings bear rule : the last shall come 
late to his throne. 

52-114. Oracles on Egypt. 
I am filled, thrice wretched one, with woe at the 

rupt ; could the reading be vipios fj.epos (cf. Seii/os otyis, 29 supr., 
andTert. Apol. v., " Domitianus, portio Neronis de crudelitate ") ? 

41. fifty: = N, i.e. Netva. This favourable judgement upon 
Nerva is due to the fact that he mitigated the offensiveness of the 
temple-tax which Vespasian and Domitian had diverted to the 
temple of Jupiter Capitolinus ("fisci ludaici calumnia sublata" 
is an inscription on Jewish coins of his time), and lessened the 
severity of Domitian's law against proselytism. 

43. three hundred: = T, i.e. Trajan. Trajan was a Spaniard 
from Bsetica, not a Celt ; perhaps the Sibyllist had the Celtiberi 
in mind. "Mountaineer may refer to Trajan's exploits in 
Armenia. Trajan died at Selinus : and selinon, apium, or parsley 
is the "flower" with which victors were crowned at the Nemean 
games ; Juv. Sat. viii. 226, Graiteque apium meruisse coronae. 

47. Hadrian : curiously called both apyvp6i<pavos (47) and Kvavo- 
Xairris (49). The praise of Hadrian in these lines, coming from a 
Jew of the time of Marcus Aurelius, i. e. after the revolt of Bar- 
Cochba and the second devastation of Jerusalem, is hard to under- 
stand. It suggests that the author of 1-51, who is wholly different 
in tone and temper from the writer or writers of the rest of Book V. , 
had his own reasons for wishing to speak well of the Antonines. 
Zahn regards 1. 51 as an interpolation, and thinks that the praise of 
Hadrian was written before Bar-Cochba's revolt, at a time when the 
Jews hoped that Hadrian would restore the temple {Beresch. JRabba, 
ed. Wunsche, 307 f.). 

51. three kings: Antoninus Pius, L. Verus, Marcus Aurelius; 
the last came late to his throne, i. e. did not attain sole sovereignty 
till the death of his brother Verus in 169 A.D. 



96 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

thought of an evil doom 1 1, the sister of Isis], even the 
inspired song of my oracle. First, round the foundation 

55 of thy temple sore-lamented shall maenads rush, and 
thou shall be in evil hands in that day when the Nile 
shall overflow all the land of Egypt, sixteen cubits deep, 
flooding the whole land and overwhelming f men, and 
the beauty of the land and the glory of its face shall be 
put to silence. 

60 Thou, Memphis, shalt lament sore for Egypt, for thou 
who didst once rule greatly the earth shalt be made 
wretched, so that the God who delights in the thunder 
shall cry from heaven : " Thou, mighty Memphis, who of 

65 old wast high in pride among hapless mortals, thou shalt 
weep sore for thy utter misery, so that the eternal, 
immortal God in the clouds shall hear it. Where now 
is that high spirit of thine among men ? Inasmuch as 
thou didst rage against my servants anointed of God, 

70 and didst stir up evil against the good, for all these 
things thou shalt have just such a hard nurse f in 
requital. Thou shalt no more have a f part among the 
blessed : fallen from the stars, thou shalt not ascend into 
heaven." 

These things did God bid me proclaim to Egypt, 
against the last time, when men shall be utterly evil. 

75 Yet they continue in their wickedness till evil befall 
them, even the wrath of the immortal God of heaven 

53. sister: yvuffri] ; on the word, see Alex., I. ii. 202. But 
that a Sibyl so hostile to Egyptian religion as that of Book V. 
should give herself out to be the sister of Isis is very strange. 
Geffck. emends to T I<rt, Oeov yvuxry : and certainly a vocative is 
required by the context. 

60-72. This passage has marks of a late date, e. g. the scansion 
PoTiffai KO,\ avrov in 62 : and the word Beoxpifffovs in 68 suggests 
that it may be a Christian addition, and refer to the persecution 
under Severus. 

72. Cf. Isaiah xiv. 12-13. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 97 

who speaks in thunder, and they worship stocks and 
stones rather than God, and are in fear of many diverse 
things devoid of reason, sense and hearing, such as it 
is unfitting even to speak of, idols each and all, wrought 80 
by the hands of men. For men took for themselves as 
gods the creatures of their own labour and presumptuous 
imagining, gods of wood and stone, of brass and gold 
and silver, vain, lifeless, deaf, molten in the fire : these 
do they make, and in these do they vainly trust. 85 

Thmuis and Xois,f Athribis, Koptos, Abydos f (cities ?) 
of Heracles and Zeus and Hermes, and thou Alexandria, 
famed mother of (cities), war shall not leave thee . . . 
shalt pay for thy pride and all thy deeds. Thou shalt 90 
be silent for a long age, and the day of return ... no 
longer shall delicate drink flow for thee ... for the 
Persian shall come to thy fland like hail, and destroy 
thy land and the men that devise evil, with blood and 95 
death, f . . . a mighty foe of barbarous mind, a man 
of blood, raging wildly round thyf wondrous altars, 
coming in a flood, like the sand of the sea, hastening 
destruction upon thee ; and then, thou city of wealth, 

86-7. Athribis, Koptos, Abydos : Wilamowitz' conjecture for the 
senseless 0\i^erai Koirrerai 0ov\fj of the MSS. Thmuis, Athribis 
and Xois are cities of the Delta ; Coptos is near Thebes, and Abydos 
lower down the Nile, where also there was another Athribis. Of 
the names which follow, Mr. H. J. Bell of the British Museum 
kindly writes "the first (Heracleopolis) is probably the city and 
nome of that name which lay between the Fayum (to the S.E.) 
and the Nile ; the second is doubtless Diospolis Magna, i, e. Thebes, 
and the third Hermopolis Magna. the modern Ashmunaim. . . . 
All the places mentioned, except Thmuis and Coptos occur in the 
remarkable invocation of Isis in Grenfell and Hunt's Oxyrhynchus 
Papyri, XI. 1380, as seats of Isis-worship, and the other two may 
have occurred in the missing part." 

92 ff. The Persians (Parthians) and their king will ravage Egypt, 
and only a third part of the people will be left. But the scene 
changes in 104, and the Parthian attack is there upon the holy land 
and city, as in I Enoch 56. 7. The Parthian king is an Antichrist 
figure, and is to be destroyed by the Messiah cf. Rev. ix. 16 ff. 
G 



98 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

thou shalt have great sorrow. All Asia shall fall on the 
ground and lament for the gifts of beauty from thee 

100 wherewith she rejoiced to crown herself. 

And he who gained rule over the Persians shall war 
against thy land, kill all thy men and waste all thy 
livelihood, so that but the third part shall remain for 
wretched mortals. From the west he shall rush in on 

105 thee, leaping lightly, to besiege and make desolate all 
thy land. But when he has reached the height of 
strength and grim f boldness, he shall go on to intend 
the devastation of the city of the blessed. And then a 
king sent from God against him shall destroy every great 

no monarch and all mighty men: and so shall justice be 
done upon men by the Immortal. 

Ah woe, my poor heart, why thus dost thou urge me 
on to declare to Egypt her misery under many rulers ? 
Go thou to the East, to the witless race of Persia, and 
how to them that which is near at hand and that which 
is to be. 

115-136. Oracles of uncertain origin. 

115 The stream of the river Euphrates shall lift up a flood, 
and shall destroy the Persians,! Iberians and the Baby- 
lonians and the Massagetae that rejoice in war and trust 
in their bow. All Asia as far as the isles shall be burnt 
and blaze with fire. Pergamos, once noble, shall perish 

1 20 from its foundations,! and Pitane shall be seen utterly 
desolate among men. All Lesbos shall sink in the deep 
abyss, to perish. Smyrna rolled down from her cliffs 
shall lie lamenting : and she that was noble and renowned 
shall be destroyed. The men of Bithynia shall weep to 

104. from the west : cf. 371 infr. ; Dan. viii. 5 ; Rev. xiii. I. 
119. from its foundations: the MSS. have Porpvtoi' ; Alex, con- 
jectured &a0 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 99 

see their land in ashes, with great Syria and Phoenicia 125 
the populous. 

Woe to thee, Lycia, for the ills devised against thee 
by the sea, which shall invade thy land of his own accord, 
and with a dread shaking of the earth, and bitter streams 
shall overwhelm the spice-bearing land of Lycia, and 
that which bore no spices. 

Dread wrath shall come upon Phrygia, by reason of 130 
that sorrow for the sake of which Rhea, mother of Zeus, 
came to her and there abode. 

The sea shall destroy the race of Centaurs f and a 
wild people : the Thessalian land a deep-eddying river 
shall ruin, the deep-flowing Peneian stream shall destroy 135 
the shapes of wild beasts from off the earth, even Epi- 
danus shall waste to the earth the Lapithse (and ?) their 
land : Epidanus, who avows that once he begot the 
bestial race.| 

137-154. Return of Nero. 

For Hellas, thrice-wretched, shall the poets make 
lament, when the great and god-like king of great Rome 
breaks through the ridge of the Isthmus : he whom Zeus 140 
himself, they say, begot, and lady Hera; one who shall 
make honey-sweet songs with a voice of melody, playing 
the actor, and shall slay both his wretched mother and 
many besides. This king, terrible and shameless, shall 
flee from Babylon, hated by every mortal and by all good 

126 ff. According to Dio, LXIII. 26, Lycia was devastated by a 
tidal wave at the end of Nero's reign. 

133-6. The text here is utterly confused and corrupt. 

138. the isthmus : see on 52 supr. 

141 f. On Nero as actor and musician, see Henderson, Nero, 

PP- 379 ff- 

143. Babylon : = Rome, as in 158 infr., III. 301 ; I Peter v. 13 ; 
Rev. xvii. 5, etc. See Chase in Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, 
s.v. Babylon. 



ioo THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

145 men ; because he slew many, and laid violent hands 
upon her who bare him, sinned against his wives, and 
was made of villainy. And he shall come to the Medes 
and the kings of the Persians, whom first he desired, 
and to whom he brought renown, conspiring with those 
evil men against a hated race (or, the race of true men) : 

150 who seized the temple built by God, burnt the people of 
the country that went up to it, for whom I sing a due 
lamentation; for when he appeared the whole creation 
was shaken, kings perished, and they in whose hands 
the power remained brought ruin on the great city and 
the righteous people. 

155-178. The downfall of " Babylon "-Rome. 

155 But when after the fourth year a great star shines, 
which shall of itself destroy the whole earth f . and 
from heaven a great star shall fall on the dread ocean 

160 and burn up the deep sea, with Babylon itself and the 
land of Italy, by reason of which many of the Hebrews 
perished, holy and faithful, and the people of truth. 
Among evil men thou shalt suffer evil, but shalt 

165 remain desolate for whole ages [om. 164], loathing the 
soil of thy land : because thou didst seek after enchant- 
ments, adultery was in thy midst, with unlawful inter- 
course with boys, thou woman-hearted city, unrighteous, 
evil, and wretched beyond all. Woe to thee, thou city 
of the Latin land, all unclean, thou maenad circled with 

153. they in whose hands : i. e. Vespasian and Titus. 

154. the great city : cf. 224infr., Rev. xi. 8. 

155. a great star: cf. Rev. viii. I f. ; Sib. III. 333-5 ; VIII. 
191 ff. 

157. The MSS. reading avrol irpSnov tGrjicav r eiva\i<i> riotrej- 
S&vi yields no sense, and no tolerable emendation has been 
proposed. 

165. enchantments : cf. Isaiah xlvii. 12. 

169, 173. Cf. Isaiah xlvii. 8, Rev. xviii. 7. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 101 

vipers, thou shalt sit a widow on thy hills, and the river 170 
Tiber shall bewail thee, his consort, with thy murderous 
heart and ungodly mind. Knowest thou not the power 
and design of God ? But thou saidst : " I am alone, and 
none shall despoil me." Yet now shall God who lives 
for ever destroy both thee and thine, and no sign of thee 1 75 
shall be left any more in that land, nor of the old time 
when the great God brought thee to honour. Abide thou 
alone, thou lawless city : wrapt in burning fire, inhabit 
thou in Hades the gloomy house of the lawless. 

179-199. Oracles on Egypt and Cyrene. 

Now once more, O Egypt, do I bewail thy doom ; jgo 
Memphis, thou shall be chief among the afflicted, and 
thy sinews shall be smitten through ; thy pyramids shall 
utter a bold word of reproach. Python, f once rightly 
called the double city, be thou silent for ages, that thou 
mayest cease from woe. Thou insolence, storehouse of 185 
woes, lamentable 1 maenad, greatly afflicted, full of tears, 
thou shalt remain a widow for ever. 



1 80. ir\T)x<^o'a Tfvovras : the expression occurs also in 138, 518, 
and is a slight indication that the same hand has worked through 
Book V. (from 52 onwards). 

182. Tlvdcav T] TO ira\ai MITOSIS /cArjfleura 5t/caia>r. An obscure line. 
Wilamowitz conjectured UtiQ&= Pithom (Exod. i. li) ; but Pithom 
was in Hellenistic times known as Heroopolis, and was a place of 
no importance. Neither nvduv (oracular city) nor $iiro\is is speci- 
ally applicable to Memphis. Attempts have been made to make 
the words refer to Thebes, the importance of which would justify 
its being mentioned after Memphis. &liro\is might refer to the 
double city, East and West Thebes ; but UvQwv remains insoluble. 
The chief god at Thebes was Ammon, and Apollo-Horus was not 
specially worshipped there. 

184. arrogance : perhaps a reminiscence of Isaiah xxx. 7. That 
an Egyptian city is so addressed tells against Geffcken and Wilamo- 
witz' view that in 288 ff. vPpis is personified as a kind ot 
demon. 



io2 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

When Barca over her rags puts on the white mantle 
may I not be there to see the day. 

O Thebes, where is thy great strength ? A savage foe 

190 shall destroy thy people ; and thou, wretched city, shall 
mourn in dark raiment and desolation, and pay a recom- 
pense for all that thou hast done in the shamelessness of 
thy hearts : and men shall look on thy lamentation, 
because of thy lawless deeds. 

Syene, a great man of the Ethiopians shall destroy it. 

195 Thee, Teuchira, shall the dark-skinned Indians overcome, 
and dwell there. Pentapolis, thou shalt have sorrow,! 
and a man of might shall destroy thee. Libya the 
lamentable, who shall declare thy doom ? Cyrene, what 
mortal shall bewail thy misery? Thou shalt not cease 
from wretched wailing until the time of thy destruction. 

200 Round the Brygesf and the wealthy Gauls (Galatians (?)) 
shall roar an ocean filled with blood : for they too 
did evil to the children of God, when the Phoenician 
king of the Sidonians led a Gallican host from Syria. 

1 88. An ancient oracle from Cyrene, retaining correctly the Doric 
form ytvot/j-av. The white mantle (icviriiffffiov) is the burnous of the 
Libyan warrior. 

194 ff. Syene = Assouan ; Teuchira = the Libyan Tauchira, after- 
wards Arsinoe ; Pentapolis = a group of towns near Cyrene. 

200. MSS. PpvTffffft. Geflfck. adopts Wilamowitz' conjecture 
Ppvyefffft (the Bryges were a Macedonian tribe). But the MSS. 
reading was understood by Procopius (B. G., I. 24, 372 D, quoted 
by Rzach), to mean Britons ; and the passage probably refers to a 
portent related byDio, LXII. i, namely, that in A.D. 62 the channel 
between Gaul and Britain ran red with blood. The writer connects 
the Gauls in some way with the fall of Jerusalem, and regards the 
portent as a sign of divine displeasure against them. 

203-4. The allusion is entirely obscure. According to Alex., 
Vespisian is called a Phoenician king because he landed at Ptole- 
mais, and his army is called Gallic because Mucianus sent him as 
a reinforcement the Legio III. Gallica. But the reinforcements 
referred to were sent to Titus, and it is clear from Tac. Hist. 
IV. 39, V. I, that the legion in question was the Legio III. 
Cyrenaica : III. Gallica was elsewhere. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 103 

Thee too, Ravenna, he shall slay, and lead to the 205 
slaughter. 

Be afraid, ye Indians and high-hearted Ethiopeans : 
for when the fiery wheel of the ecliptic (?)... and 
Capricorn . . . and Taurus among the Twins encircles 
the mid-heaven, when the Virgin ascending and the Sun 210 
fastening the girdle round his forehead dominates the 
wholef firmament; there shall be a great conflagration 
from the sky, falling on the earth ; and in the warring 
stars there shall be a new portent, so that the whole land 
of Ethiopia shall perish in fire and groaning. 

214-227. Return of Nero. 

And thou too, Corinth, bewail thy sad overthrow; for 215 
when the three sisters of Destiny, spinning their twisted 
thread, have brought again from on high him who fled 
by guile, by the bank of the isthmus, till all behold him, 
who once cut through the rock with the smiting of tools, 
then shall he destroy and lay waste thy land, as it is 
ordained. For to him God gave power to do deeds 220 
greater than all kings before him ; first with a sickle he 
shall tear outf the roots of three heads, and give them 
to others to feed on, so that they shall eat the flesh of 
the parents of the unholy king.f For upon all men 225 
bloodshed and terror are ordained, by reason of the great 

The Gauls appear as enemies of the Jews in 2 Mace, viii. 20. 

205. Perhaps an exaggerated reference to the disturbances at 
Ravenna in 69 A.D., when the Roman navy went over from Vitellius 
to Vespasian. 

206 ff. The battle of the stars : s;e on 512 ff. 

216. the isthmus: see on 32 supr. 

22O f. Cf. 366 infr. 

222. three heads: i.e. the Flavian Caesars, Vespasian, Titus and 
Domitian (see note on the Nero-legend, p. 38 above). Hippolytus, 
however (De Christo et Antichristo, 52), took the three horns to be 
Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya. 

ten horns : i. e. the Roman Emperors from Julius to Vespasian. 



104 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

city and the righteous people, the people who shall surely 
be saved, whom the providence of God chose out. 

230 O thou unstable, perverse, ill-fated, beginning and 
great ending of affliction for men, of harm to things 
created, and their destined restoration, insolent, leader 
in evil, and bane of men, who hath ever desired thee, 
who is not inly wroth at thee ? In thee a good king, 

235 living nobly, was cast down in death. Thou hast set all 
in disorder, all good thou hast submerged in evil, and 
through thee the good ordinances (?) of the world have 
been changed. Charge this disorder to us, if thou wilt : f 
what sayest thou? "I will persuade thee, and iff 
in aught thou blamest me, say on." Once among men 
was diffused the bright sunlight of the concordant rays 

'240 of prophecy : the tongue that dropped fair honey for all 
mankind to drink was manifest and went forward and 
rose in kindness upon all. Wherefore, thou who art 
blind in counsel, author of great evils, both the sword 
and sorrow shall come in that day. The beginning and 

245 great ending of woes for men, of harm to things created 
and their destined restoration, hear thou a bitter ill- 
sounding word, thou bane of men. 

247-255. The Restoration of the City and Temple. 

But when the Persian's land shall cease from war, 
from pestilence and groaning, in that day shall be raised 

228-246. Usually taken as a Jewish invective against Rome ; but 
as it stands now it may well be Christian, like 256-9. The "king" 
of 233 must surely be our Lord, and the city will then be Jerusalem, 
as in Rev. xi. 8. The appeal to prophecy in 238-41 strongly recalls 
John v. 35 ; and the difficult line 237 reads like a compressed 
' ' dialogus adversus ludasos." 

Geffck., who takes the view that here the hatred of the law 
(vfipis) is personified (see on 184), gives prosodical reasons for 
assigning a late date to the passage. 

247. shall cease Jrom war : i. e. when the final onset oi the 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 105 

up the race of the Jews, blessed children of God and 
heaven, dwelling in the middle parts of earth around 250 
the city of God, and shall build up a great wall round 
about as far as Joppa, lifting it high, even to the dark 
clouds. The trumpet shall no more be blown, sounding 
for battle, nor shall those men perish at the hands of 
a raging enemy, but they shall set upf an eternal trophy 255 
over the wicked. 



256-259. A Christian Oracle : the return of the 
Crucified Messiah. 

And one chief man shall come again from the sky, 
who stretched forth his hands upon the fruitful tree, 
the best of the Hebrews, who once shall stay the sun 
in its course, calling upon it with fair speech and 
holy lips. 

Antichrist-kingdom (Parthians, as in 93) is defeated. Geffck. 
connects this with the peace between Rome and Parthia under the 
Flavian Caesars ; but the reference is probably rather apocalyptic 
than historical. 

251-2. Cf. 424 f. 

253. For the peace of the new age, cf. 382 ff., HI. 649ft., IS 1 - 

257. stretched forth : Christ is the second Moses (Exod. xvii. 
12). Cf. VIII. 251, ftp MOHTT/S tTviraxfe irporeivas &\fvas ayvds. 

the fruitful tree : the expression, which recalls many parallels in 
later literature, (e.g. Venantius Fortunatus Carm. II. ii. 22, crux 
fidelis . . . flore, fruge fertilis, and II. 19 fertilitate potens o dulce 
et nobile lignum) is based on the symbolism of the tree of life 
as a type of the Cross. Cf. Tert., Adv. hid. 13, et lignum, 
inquit (Joel ii. 22), attulit fructum suum, non illud lignum in 
paradiso quod mortem dedit protoplastis, sed lignum passionis 
Christi, etc. ; this goes back at least as far as Justin Martyr (Dial, 
c. Try ph. 86, rb ffravpudrjvai TOVTOV . . . ffv/j.f)o\ov 6/x e TV ^v\av 
rrjs &>'?*) See Lightfoot on Ign. Smyrn. i. The symbolism was 
soon transformed into legend, i. e. the belief that a slip from the 
tree of life was planted on Golgotha, and furnished the actual 
wood of the Cross. Cf. Ev. Nicod. in Thilo Cod. Apocr., I. 686. 

258. stay the sun : as Jesus the son of Nun had done (Josh. x. 
12-13) > an d as the Antichrist would also do, Sib. III. 65. 



106 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

260-285. Blessings of the chosen People^ and miseries of 
the heathen in the coming age. 

260 Vex no more thy soul in thy breast, thou blessed one,f 
thou seed of God, full of riches, thou only-beloved 
flower, thou good light, noble protection, . . . Judaea, 
land of grace, fair city of inspired song. The unclean 
foot of the Greek shall no more walk wantonly in thy 

265 land, for he shall have in his heart a mind to share 
thy laws : but the sons of renown shall honour thee, and 
with holy singing shall set the table with sacrifice of all 
kinds and pious prayers; the righteous who in a little 

270 oppression endured hardness shall have f prosperity 
greater and fairer than before : f but the wicked who 
raised their voice to heaven in lawlessness shall cease 
from speaking one to another, and hide themselves, until 
the world be changed. f A rain of burning fire shall fall 

275 from the clouds : men shall no more reap fair fruit from 
the earth ; all shall be unsown, un ploughed, till men take 
knowledge of Him who governs all things, the immortal 
eternal God, and no longer pay honour to things that 
die, nor to dogs and vultures, such as Egypt taught them 

280 to worship with foolish mouths and vain lips. Only the 
holy land of the godly shall bring forth all her fruit, 
honey dripping from the rock, and from the fountain 
ambrosial milk shall flow for all the righteous ; for they 
set their hope on one God, the Father, who alone is 

285 above all gods, and great was their piety and faith. 

260 ff. For the whole passage, cf. III. 573 ff. 
264. Cf. III. 734-5, and for 265, III. 710 ff. 
269. a little oppression : cf. Wisd. iii. 5. 
273. changed: cf. 300 infr, and III. 638. 
276. unsown: see on III. 539. 
279. Cf. 77 ff. supr., III. 30. 
281. Cf. III. 261, 581. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 107 

286-297, 306-341. Oracles upon Asia. 

But what is this that my mind in its wisdom bids me 
utter ? Now will I bewail thee bitterly, wretched Asia, 
and the race of the lonians, Carians, and wealthy 
Lydians. Woe to thee, Sardis, woe to thee, delightful 
Tralles, woe to thee, Laodicea, fair city : ye shall be 290 
destroyed with earthquakes, perish and be turned to 
dust. And to dark Asia . . . the well-builded temple 
of Artemis at Ephesus . . . shall fall headlong into the 
dread sea, the earth quaking and opening, as a ship 2 ai 
is overwhelmed by a storm -wind. Ephesus shall lie 
prone by her shores, weeping and lamenting, and seeking 
for the temple that stands there no more. 

And then in his anger the immortal God who dwells 
on high shall hurl from the sky a fiery bolt on the head 
of the unholy : and summer shall change to winter in 300 
that day. And then great woe f shall befall mortal men : 
for He that thunders from on high shall destroy all the 
shameless, with thunderings and lightnings and burning 
thunderbolts upon his enemies, and shall make an end 
of them for their ungodliness, so that the corpses shall 305 
lie on the earth more countless than the sand. 

289. Cf. III. 459. 

290. Cf. 111.471, IV. 107 ff. 

293 ff. It is difficult to trace any disaster at Ephesus corre- 
sponding to these lines : they are quoted, apparently as a fulfilled 
prophecy, by Clem. Al. Protr. iv. ; and it is conceivable that they 
may have been inserted here with reference to the great earth- 
quake of A.D. 180, while it is also possible that their original 
composition belongs to a far earlier time, for Eus., Chron. Ol. 198, 
includes Ephesus among the cities ruined in the great earthquake 
mentioned in Tac. Ann. II. 47 (A.D. 17) ; see Lightfoot, Colossians, 
p. 39 note. 

300. Cf. VIII. 215, "when God shall, change the seasons, 
making winter into summer " ; perhaps this is the clue to the 
word "change" in 273 supr. and III. 639: cf. III. 88-90, 
IV. (II.) Esdr. vii. 39 f., II. Enoch 65. 7. 

305. Cf. Rev. xx. 8. 



io8 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

For Smyrna shall come, lamenting her Lycurgus 
(? shepherd), to the gates of Ephesus, (?) yet shall she 
perish all the more. 

Foolish Cyme with her oracular streams shall fall 

3 10 into the hands of godless men, unrighteous and lawless, 

and shall no longer so much as lift up her voice to 

heaven, but shall lie dead beside the Cumaean springs. 

And then shall they cry out together in expectation of 

evil. The bad men of Cumae, that shameless tribe, 

shall know the sign upon it of requital for its deeds. 

315 Then when they bewail their own land burnt to ashes, 

Lesbos shall be destroyed for ever by Eridanus. 

Woe to thee, Corcyra, f thou fair city, cease thy 
revelling : Hierapolis, whose very soil is wedded to 
Pluto, thou shalt have the place of thy desire, a place 
320 of many tears, when thou buriest thyself in the earth 
by the waters of Therm odon. Tripolis, clinging to thy 
rock by the waters of Mseander, the wrathful providence 

306-7. The MSS. have e&v K\a.iovffa Xvitovpy&v : Alex, con- 
jectured SdfjLopvov Samornus was the harbour of Smyrna. The 
mention of Smyrna as going to Ephesus for sympathy and relief 
confirms the suggestion made above that the disaster of 180 A.D. 
is here referred to, for .^Llius Aristides (ed. Dindorf, I. p. 497) 
says that at that time the Ephesians and Smyrnaeans nap' aAA^Aous 

HOtOV 00pl>fioV/J.fVOl. 

308. This is an oracle on the ^Eolic Cyme. The words foolish and 
oracular are explained by the fact that Cyme had a reputation 
for stupidity and also a temple and oracle of Apollo ; but it looks 
as if the Jewish Sibyllist meant the lines to be understood of the 
Italian Cumse and the Cumaean Sibyl. 

317. Corcyra: so the MSS. ; Mendelssohn suggested Kl&vpa. 

318. Hierapolis suffered, like Laodicea in the earthquake 01 
A.D. 60 (Tac. Ann. xiv. 27), as at many other times. 

n\ovrwvi p-iyfiffa. is a certain correction for the MSS. reading 
Tl\o$T(f : it refers to a mephitic chasm at Hierapolis which was 
called Ploutonion or Charonion ; see Ramsay in Hastings' Dictionary 
of the Bible, s.v. Hierapolis, Lightfoot, Colossians, p. 12. 

320. Thermodon: a bad slip for Lycus. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 109 

of God shall destroy thee utterly, when for thy portion 
the waves cover thee by night beneath the sand. 

May I never choose for my dwelling the land that 
has Phoebus for neighbour ; a bolt from above shall 325 
destroy Miletus, the luxurious city, for that she chose 
the guileful song of Phcebus and (fshe rejected?) the 
studies of the learned, and their prudent counsel. Shew 
mercy, thou Father of all, upon the fertile and fruitful 
land, great Judaea, that we may behold thy judgements. 
For her thou didst know before others in thy grace, 330 
O God, that she might be known to all men as the 
land of thy favour, and that they should consider what 
privilege God has given her. 

I long, thrice wretched, to see the works of the 
Thracians, even the wall from sea to sea, dragged down 335 
to the dust by a blast of air, falling like a river into 
the sea f where the cormorant dives for fish-f 

Thou poor Hellespont, the son of Assyria shall bridge 
thee one day : Lysimache f the strong power of the 
Thracians shall devastate. An Egyptian king shall sub- 
due Macedonia, and the might of his captains shall 

324. The oracles of Asia Minor enjoyed great popularity in the 
first and still more in the second century A.D. ; that the Sibyl 
should attack them is very natural. Geffck. interprets 324 as a 
reference to the tradition (Paus. x. 12. 5) that the Erythraean Sibyl 
"came to Claros of the Colophonians " (where there was a cele- 
brated oracle) ; this may be right, but Miletus' choice of the song 
of Phoebus can only refer to the pride of the Milesians in the 
neighbouring oracle of Branchidse. 

333 ff. Apparently an ancient oracle referring to the wall of 
Miltiades ; cf. Hdt. VI. 36. 

336. An ancient oracle on Xerxes, 

337. sis fff M a xf5 QpyKiov MSS. : Wilamowitz conjectured \v<ri- 
tia.\T)v. During the war between Rome and Philip of Macedon, 
A.D. 20x3-196, "the flourishing Lysimachia on the Thracian 
Chersonese was totally destroyed by the Thracians" (Mommsen, 
History of Rome, E.T., ii. p. 246). 

338. An Egyptian king : i.e. Ptolemy Keraunos, 280 B.C. 



no THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

340 break the power of the barbarian region. Lydians and 
Galatians, Pamphylians and Pisidians shall wage evil 
strife, every man of them taking arms. 

Thrice wretched Italy, desolate and unwept, thou 
shalt await destruction by a grievous stroke in a fruitful 
land. 

344-360. A warning of the coming tribulation. 

One day shall the voice of God be heard from above 

345 throughout the broad heaven as a peal of thunder. The 
rays of the very sun shall fail, the moon shall not give 
her bright light, in the time of the end, when God shall 
rule. There shall be thick darkness over all the earth : 

350 men shall be blind, and evil beasts also (?), and there 
shall be wailing, that day shall continue for a long time, 
so that men shall know that God himself is king and 
his eye is over all things from heaven. Then will He 
have no pity upon his enemies, who make sacrifice of 

355 lambs and sheep, of herds of lowing bulls, of great 
calves with gilded horns, to lifeless Hermse and gods 
of stone. But follow ye the law of wisdom and the 
glory of the righteous : lest haply the immortal God in 
his anger destroy every kind and tribe of living men.f 

360 Ye must love as father the wise God who lives for ever. 

361-385. The coming of Antichrist (Nero): the great 
War, and the peace of the righteous. 

In the time of the end, and the last days of the moon, 
there shall be a mad, world-wide war, treacherous and 
guileful. And from the ends of the earth shall come the 

345- Cf. IV. 175. 

346 ff. Cf. 480 ff. ; Joel ii. 10, Ass. Mos. 10. 5 

353. no pity : see on IV. 159. 

363 ff. Cf. IV. 137 ff., V. 28-34, 137 ff. 215 ff. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES in 

man who slew his mother, a fugitive, pondering piercing 
counsels in his mind, who shall subdue all the earth and 365 
hold sway over all, and shall be more prudent in counsel 
than any man : and the city which caused him to fall, he 
shall capture at a blow. He shall slay many men and 
mighty kings, and burn them all with fire, as none had 
done before him, but those who crouch in fear he shall 370 
raise up in his fury. Great war shall come upon men 
from the west, and blood shall flow down the banks into 
the deep-eddying rivers, f Wrath shall run in streams 
over the plain of Macedonia . . . f bringing help of 
allies to him from the west, but doom to the king. And 375 
then a wintry blast shall blow over the earth, and the 
plain shall be filled once more with evil war. For fire 
shall rain down from the floor of heaven upon men, and 
fire, water, thunderbolts, gloom, and murk in the sky, 
with wasting of war and a mist of slaughter to destroy all 380 
kings together and all men of might. Then shall the 
piteous ruin of war thus have an end : none shall any 
more make war with sword and steel and spear ; this 
shall be unlawful henceforth. And the people of wisdom, 
which was forsaken, shall have peace, having made trial 385 
of calamity, that thereafter they might have joy. 

386-433. Destruction of Rome : vengeance for the destruc- 
tion of the Temple: victory of the Messiah, and 
restoration of the Holy City. 

Ye slayers of your mother, cease from your bold deeds 
of evil, ye who aforetime contrived lawless intercourse 
with boys and made virgins, once pure, to ply for hire 
in brothels, with outrage and ill-usage and shame and 

371. from the west : cf. 104 supr. 

372. Cf. Rev. xiv. 20, i Enoch 100. 3. 
382 ff. Cf. 253 ff., 431 ff., III. 649 ff. 



ii2 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

390 sorrow . . . Among you a mother would have intercourse 
with her son, and a daughter be joined as in wedlock 
with her father ; among you kings would defile their lips 
with impiety, and vile men would even contrive inter- 
course with beasts. Keep silence, thou fair city most 

395 lamentable, full of revelry ; no more in thee shall virgin 
priestesses tend the sacred flame with twigs f of branch- 
ing wood ; the beloved house has long been extinguished 
in ruin from the midst of thee, in that day when I saw 
the temple for the second time cast down, utterly de- 

400 voured with fire by unholy hands, the temple that had 
flourished perpetually, the shrine of God's observance, 
built by the saints, and he that built it hoped with his 
whole soul and body that it should endure for ever. 

For these men pay no unthinking reverence to a god 
of shapeless earth, nor among them did the craftsman 

405 make a god of stone, nor was there a worshipping of 
adornments of gold that deceive the soul ; but they 
honoured God, the great father of all to whom He gives 
breath, with sacrifices and holy hecatombs. But now 
there came up against it an inglorious and unholy king, 

410 to throw down the holy place and leave it a ruin, with a 
great host and men of renown in war. Yet he perished, 
f when he had set foot on the soil of the holy landf (or, 
by the hands of the Immortal, and departed from the 
land) : and no more was such a sign wrought among 
men, so that men might think that another than he had 
laid waste the great city. 

395~7- The temple of Vesta was destroyed in the fire of Rome, 
A.D. 64. 

411. The meaning is that Titus came to such a speedy end that 
one might think the destruction of the temple not to be his work at 
all. That Titus died very suddenly became an almost mythical 
tradition among the Jews ; see the fantastic story in Bereschith 
Rabba, ed. WUnsche, p. 42. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 113 

For from the billowy clouds of heaven there came a 415 
blessed one, a man holding a sceptre in his hand, which 
God had delivered to him, and he triumphed nobly over 
all, and gave back to all the good that wealth which 
aforetime men had taken from them. He took and 
utterly burnt with fire the cities of them who before had 
done evil, and the city which God loved he made more 420 
bright than the sun, moon and stars : her he adorned, 
and ... he made a holy house in visible shape (Wap*ov), 
pure and beautiful ; of many furlongs he made it in mag- 
nitude, with a great tower reaching to the very clouds, 435 
visible to all men, that all the faithful and the righteous 
might behold the glory of eternal God, and the shape of 
His desire. Then the east and the west sang of the 
honour of God : for then there are no more (terrors f) 
for hapless mortals, no adultery nor lawless lust for boys, 430 
no murder nor noise of war, no contention save in 
righteousness. It is the last time of the saints, when 
God who thunders from on high, founder of the great 
temple, brings these things to pass. 

434446. An Oracle on Babylon. 

Woe to thee, Babylon, with thy throne of gold and 
golden sandals, who didst reign many years sole mistress 435 
of the world, who wast once a great and noble city : no 
longer shalt thou couch on the mountains of gold by the 
river Euphrates ; thou shalt be laid low by the shock of 
an earthquake : the dread Parthians put thee to great 

423. There is to be an actual and material (evtrapKos) temple in 
the restored city ; contrast Rev. xxi. 22 ; Bousset, R. J. 226 f. 

4245. Cf. 251 ff. a great tower : the picture is clearly modelled 
on the temple of Onias rather than on that of Solomon or Herod ; 
cf. Jos. B. J. VII. 427, Niese : "Onias built his temple not like 
that in Jerusalem, but like a tower, of great stones, sixty cubits 
high." 
II 



n 4 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

suffering (MS. Kparetv, caused thee to hold wide sway). 

440 Keep thy lips bridled, thou unholy race of the Chaldaeans : 
ask not nor ponder how thou mayst rule over the Persian 
and vanquish the Mede ; for by reason of thy sway which 
thou didst gain, sending as hostages to Rome those who 
were slaves to Asia, therefore, though thou didst count 

445 thyself a queen f . . . thou shalt come to be judged by 
thy enemies, by reason of whom thou hast sent a ransom,f 
and for thy crooked words thou shalt give a bitter accountf 
to thy enemies. 

447-475. Miscellaneous prophecies of destruction, 

In the last time the sea shall be dried up, and ships 
shall no more sail to Italy : great Asia shall be one ex- 

4^0 panse of water, and Crete a plain. Cyprus shall have 
great trouble, and Paphos lament her great doom, so that 
one shall see Salamis too, the great city, suffering great 
affliction ; though now dry land, it shall be a sterile sand 
on the shore. . . . Swarms of locusts shall devastate the 

455 land of Cyprus. Weep, suffering mortals, when ye look 
on Tyre. Phcenice, a dread wrath awaits thee, even to 
fall in evil ruin, so that the very Sirens shall bewail thee 
with sorrow. 

443. Dio., LIV. 8, I. In 20 B.C. Phraates, dismayed by the 
threatening activity of Augustus, and conscious that he had ignored 
all his treaty obligations, sent back the Roman prisoners and 
standards which were in his hands. This was celebrated by Augustus 
as a real victory, with sacrifices, a triumph, and the dedication of a 
temple to Mars Vindex. See Mommsen, Provinces, II. 28, 38, 
Res Gesttz Div. Aiig. V. 40, and pp. I24ff. 

447. the sea: cf. Rev. xxi. i, Ass. Mos. 10, 6. 

450 f. see on IV. 128. 

457. sirens : the sirens appear as spirits of lamentation in Apoc. 
Bar. x. 8 ; aetpyvts is the LXX equivalent for "jackals" in Isaiah 
xiii. 22, Micah i. 8, Ps. xliv. 19 (Aquila). 

458 ff. Refers perhaps to the troubles of Egypt in the time of 
Cleopatra, and the subsequent settlement. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 115 

And in the fifth generation, when the destroying of 
Egypt has ceased, and shameless kings have made a 
treaty : and the peoples of Pamphylia settle in Egypt, 460 
there shall be in Macedonia, Asia, and Lycia (Libya ?) a 
war raging over the world and the dust shall be drenched 
with blood which a king of Rome and rulers of the 
west shall cause to cease. 

When the blast of winter drives thick with snow, and 
the great river and the great lakes are frozen, then a 465 
barbarous people shall move on Asia and destroy the 
fierce people of Thrace, that strong people. Then will 
men, wasted by hunger, feeding on things forbidden, f 
devour their parents and glut themselves with offal. 
Wild beast will snatch food out of every house, and the 470 
very birds will eat the flesh of men. The sea shall be 
filled with evil things from the rivers, f and shall be red 
with the flesh and blood of the unwise. Then shall 
there be such dearth of men in the world that a man 475 
could count up both men and women. 



476483. The doom of the evil world, and the hope of 
the godly. 

A fearful generation shall lament very sore, at the 
time appointed for the sun to set and rise no more, 
waiting to sink in the waters of ocean ; for he looked 
on the unholy ways of many sinful men. There shall 480 
be a gloom of dread darkness over the broad sky, and 
a thick darkness shall once more cover the recesses of 

464 ff. One may connect this passage with the inroad of the Gauls 
into Thrace and Asia Minor in 280 B.C. 

480. Cf. 346 ff. 

481. K6fffj.ov irri/xa- The expression is found also in 235, but 
evidently in a different sense. 



n6 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

the earth : but then the light of God shall give guidance 
to the good, to all who sang His praises. 

484-503. Doom of paganism in Egypt : a true temple 
to be built there. 

Isis, wretched goddess, thou shalt be left solitary by 

485 the waters of Nile, a raving f maenad by the sandy shore 
of Acheron, and no memorial shall be left of thee in all 
the world. And thou, Sarapis, dwelling on thy pile of 
profitless stones, shall lie a vast ruin in the midst of 
wretched Egypt. And all in Egypt who | sought unto 

490 thee shall bewail thee with sorrow ; but they f whose 
mind is sound in them, who sang the praise of God, 
shall know that thou art nothing. 

And on a day shall a white-robed priest speak thus : 
" Come, let us set up in beauty the true temple of God ; 
come, let us change the evil custom of our forefathers, 

495 through which in their foolishness they knew not that 
they were offering rites and processions to gods of stone 
and clay. Let us turn and sing praise to the immortal 
God, the Father, the Eternal, the ruler of all, the true 

500 God and King, the Father who holdeth our soul in life, 
the great God who lives for ever." And then shall there 
be in Egypt a great and holy temple, and the people 

484. Acheron : the Acherusian marsh, near Memphis. 

492. a white-robed priest: i.e. a linen-clad priest of Isis or 
Serapis ; cf. Ov. Met. I. 747, Dea linigera colitur celeberrima 
turba. 

493-5- Cf - HI. 7I6-73. 1 - 

501 ff. The passage is an idealized picture based on Isaiah xix. ff. ; 
there is no direct reference to the temple of Onias, which was 
closed by order of Vespasian (Jos. B. J. VII. 421-436, Niese), 
an event of which one would have expected to find more traces in 
Or. Sib. ; see on 424 supr. Yet it is hard to believe that the 
closing of Onias' temple (it was not destroyed) was not in the back 
of the writer's mind, here and in 507 ff. 



THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 117 

whom God hath made shall bring sacrifices into it, and 
the immortal j God shall grant them to dwell there. 

But when the Ethiopians come from the shameless 
tribes of the Triballi, to plough j the fields of Egypt as 505 
their own, they shall begin to do evil, that the latter 
things may come to pass. For they will destroy the 
great temple of the land of Egypt; and God shall 
rain down on them upon the earth the furiousness of 
His anger, destroying all that evil and lawless people, 
and there shall be no sparing in that land, because they 510 
kept not that which God had delivered to them. 

512-531. The battle of the Stars. 
I beheld the menace of the burning sun among the 

505. What is to be made of Ethiopians who come from Thrace 
(Triballi)? From III. 320, 512, it seems that they are to be 
identified with Gog and Magog. See note on III. 319 ff. 

5i2ff. Cf. 206-213 su P r - Perhaps the germ of the conception 
may be looked for in Isaiah xiii. 10, Joel ii. IO, etc. ; it is clearer 
in Matt. xiii. 25, and still more so in Rev. vi. 13 ; xii. 4, etc.; cf. 
also 2 Pet. iii. 10. In I Enoch 102. 2, "the luminaries are 
affrighted " in the day of judgment. 

But it is to Stoic sources that we must look for the origin of the 
picture of a stellar battle as part of the ftcwvpoxris ; e. g. to Seneca, 
Consol. ad Marciam, XXVI.: "etcum tempus advenerit quo se 
mundus renovaturus exstinguat ; viribus ista se suis csedent, et sidera 
sideribus incurrent, et omni flagrante materia uno igne quidquid 
nunc ex disposito lucet ardebit ; " and Hercules Furens, 944 ff. : 

' ' primus en ! noster labor 
creli refulget parte non minima Leo, 
iraque totus fervet et morsus parat. 
lam rapiet aliquod sidus : . . . 

. . . quidquid autuinnus gravis 
hienesque gelido frigida spatio refert 
uno impetu transiliet et verni petet 
frangetque Tauri colla." 

One is inclined also to suggest that there may be a touch of Mithraism 
in the picture : certainly the scorpion creeping under the tail of 
the lion recalls one of the most familiar features of the Mithraic 
monuments. 



n8 THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES 

stars, and the dread wrath of the moon in her bright 
shining ; the stars were in travail with warfare, and God 

515 gave the word for battle. Over against the sun great 
flames made combat, and the horned whirling f of the 
moon was changed; the Day-Star went into battle, 
mounting on the back of the Lion : Capricorn smote the 
neck-sinew of the new-risen Bull : and the Bull took 

520 from Capricorn his day of return ; and Orion put 
to flight the Yoke, it could not abide him ; the Virgin 
changed the fate of the Twins, in the Ram : the Pleiad 
shone no more : the Dragon refused the Girdle ; the 
Fishes swam up beneath the girdle of the Lion ; Cancer 

525 stayed not in his place, for fear of Orion ; the Scorpion 
crept f under the tail of the Lion, and the Dog slipped 
away from the flaming of the Sun ; Aquarius was burnt 
up by the strength of the mighty Shiner. Heaven itself 
arose, and shook off the warring hosts ; and cast them 

530 headlong in its wrath to the ground. And they, 
swiftly smitten down upon the waters or Ocean, set 
the whole earth on fire; and the sky stood bare of 
stars. 

530. Cf. Rev. vi. 13, Sib., III. 83, and Seneca, Thyestcs 868-9, 

"monstraque numquam perfusa mari 
raerget condens omnia gurges." 



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unencumbered by commentary or elaborate notes, 
which can be had in larger works. 



FIRST SERIES 

Palestinian-Jewish and Cognate Texts 
(Pre-Rabbinic) 

1 . Aramaic Papyri. A. E. Cowley, Litt.D., Sub- 

Librarian of the Bodleian Library, Oxford. 

2. The Wisdom of Ben-Sira (Ecclesiasticus). 

The Rev. W. O. E. Oesterley, D.D., 
Vicar of St. Alban's, Bedford Park, W. ; 
Examining Chaplain to the Bishop of 
London. 

3. The Book of Enoch. The Rev. R. H. 

Charles, D.D., Canon of Westminster. 

4. The Book of Jubilees. The Rev. Canon 

Charles. 

5. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. 

The Rev. Canon Charles. 

6. The Odes and Psalms of Solomon. The 

Rev. G. H. Box, M.A., Rector of Sutton, 
Beds., Hon. Canon of St. Albans. 

7. The Ascension of Isaiah. The Rev. Canon 

Charles. 

8. The Apocalypse of Ezra (ii. Esdras). The 

Rev. Canon Box. 

9. The Apocalypse of Baruch. The Rev. Canon 

Charles. 

10. The Apocalypse of Abraham. The Rev. 

Canon Box. 

1 1. The Testaments of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

The Rev. Canon Box and S. Gazelee. 

12. The Assumption of Moses. The Rev. W. J. 

Ferrar, M.A., Vicar of Holy Trinity, East 
Finchley. 



FIRST SERIES continued 

13. The Biblical Antiquities of Philo. M. R. 

James, Litt.D., F.B.A., Hon. Litt.D., 
Dublin, Hon. LL.D. St. Andrews, Provost 
of King's College, Cambridge. 

14. Lost Apocrypha of the Old Testament. 

M. R. James, Litt.D. 

Now Ready Nos. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 8 7 and 10 (in one vol.), 
9 and 12 (in one vol.), and No. 13. 



SECOND SERIES 
Hellenistic-Jewish Texts 



1. The Wisdom of Solomon. The Rev. Dr. 

Oesterley. 

2. The Sibylline Oracles (Books iii v). The 

Rev. H. N. Bate, M.A., Vicar of Christ 
Church, Lancaster Gate, W. ; Examining 
Chaplain to the Bishop of London. 

3. The Letter of Aristeas. H. St. John Thack- 

eray, M.A., King's College, Cambridge. 

4. Selections from Philo. J. H. A. Hart, M.A. 

5. Selections from Josephus. H. St. J. Thack- 

eray, M.A. 

6. The Third and Fourth Books of Maccabees. 

The Rev. C. W. Emmet, B.D., Vicar of 
West Hendred, Oxon. 

7. The Book of Joseph and Asenath. Translated 

and edited from the Syriac text (for the first 
time in English) by E. W. Brooks. 
Now Ready Nos. 1, 2 and 3. 



THIRD SERIES 

Palestinian-Jewish and Cognate Texts 
(Rabbinic) 

*i. Pirqe Aboth. The Rev. Dr. Oesterley. 

*2. Berakhoth. The Rev. A. Lukyn Williams, 

D.D. 

*3. Yoma. The Rev. Canon Box. 
*4. Shabbath. The Rev. Dr. Oesterley. 
*5. Sanhedrin. Rev. H. Danby. 
*6. Qimchi's Commentary on the Psalms (Book 

I, Selections). The Rev. R. G. Finch, B.D. 



7. Tamid 

8. Aboda Zara 
Q. Middoth 



10. Sopherim j 13. Taanith 

11. Megilla ! 14. Megillath 

12. Sukka Taanith 



* It is proposed to publish these texts first by way of 
experiment. If the Series should so far prove successful the 
others will follow. 



Jewish Literature and Christian Origins : 
Vol. I. The Apocalyptic Literature. 
II. A Short Survey of the Literature of 

Rabbinical Judaism. 
By the Revs. Dr. Oesterley and Canon Box. 

Jewish Uncanonical Writings : A popular Intro- 
duction. By the Rev. W. J. Ferrar. 



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